WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN THE BALKANS TODAY

  • Ambassadors of the QUINT states (U.S., U.K., France, France, Germany, and Italy) in Kosovo released a statement honoring those killed in the Recak/Racak massacre twenty-one years ago which “eventually prompted NATO allies to intervene and end a humanitarian catastrophe.”
  • US Congresswoman Maxine Waters was duped by the same Russian pranksters, Vovan and Lexus, who convinced former PM of N. Macedonia Zoran Zaev that he was on the phone with former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.
  • “A ceremony of remembrance was held on 13th January 2020 at Camp Butmir to mark the 12th anniversary of a helicopter crash which claimed the lives of 11 EUFOR personnel from the Republic of North Macedonia. On 12th January 2008, a military helicopter carrying troops home from the EUFOR mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina crashed near its final destination of Skopje. Tragically, all 11 personnel on board were killed.” (Sarajevo Times)

 

  • Croatian PM Andrej Plenkovic addressed the European Parliament on Croatia’s main priorities for its EU Presidency including a multi-year financial framework, the relationship with the UK post Brexit, and opening EU accession talks with Albania and N. Macedonia.
  • After a debate in the European Parliament, Plenkovic and European Commission (EC) President Ursala Von Der Leyen gave a joint press conference. Von Der Leyen noted, “The next six months are crucial for the EU – Western Balkans relations. Croatia knows better than others what the power of the European perspective means. That’s the issue of whether you have a real perspective.”
  • France24 landed a lengthy sit down with Croatian PM Andrej Plenkovic. The English language interview lasts roughly 15 minutes and covers Brexit, climate change, the future of the Western Balkans and dynamics in the Middle East. (VIDEO)
  • The EC has earmarked 2 million EUR for the Western Balkans to invest in Intervet.
  • Serbian FM Ivica Dacic expects Croatia to support Serbia’s EU aspirations. He noted the slow pace of opening and closing chapters for countries and said, “For states that have made progress in integration and opened more than a half of the negotiation chapters, like Serbia, the pace of the process has to be improved, with clear political support.” Serbia has 18 of 35 chapters open, but has closed only two chapters.
  • Speaking of the EU, the Commissioner for European Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Oliver Varhely will meet today President of N. Macedonia Stevo Pendarovski, PM Oliver Spasovski, and Speaker of Parliament Talat Xhaferi. Varhely is set to visit Albania the following day.
  • Winners of the October 26th Kosovo parliamentary elections, Vetvendosje, sent a new proposal to second place Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) to form a government. LDK’s leader, Isa Mustafa, will look over the proposal over the coming days. The West and President Hashim Thaci have been pressuring Vetvendosje to propose a PM.
  • The Iranian Embassy in Bosnia and Herzegovina denies that General Qasem Soleimani was planning terror attacks in Bosnia.
  • Minister of Foreign Affairs of UAE Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan received Slovenian counterpart Miro Cerar on the sidelines of the Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week 2020.
  • Montenegrin FM Srdjan Darmanovic looked to calm the controversy of the new religious law by saying the government is open to dialogue with the Serbian Orthodox Church. He also clarified the law, “There will be no revolutionary seizing of property. The law says that Montenegrin cultural treasures should revert to the state and the use of that property was never in doubt.”

 

  • Serbian FM Ivica Dacic called those in Serbia who support the law as someone who “betrays their country” and denied that Serbia wants to create a single country with Montenegro.

 

  • Meanwhile, Senior Fellow at the Center for European Policy Analysis, Janusz Bugajski, said, “It is part of the rule of law and the system of registration of real estate and potential state property, especially given the fact that Montenegro has gone through so much, if I may say , the change of states since independence before the First World War.”

 

 

  • Two Montenegrin journalists were apprehended for spreading false news The European Committee to Protect Journalists called for their release.

 

 

  • “A court in Slovenia voided the treason conviction of a Nazi collaborator who was executed in Yugoslavia shortly after World War II. The Supreme Court of Slovenia, a European Union member on Italy’s eastern border, nullified the 1946 conviction of Leon Rupnik last week, the director of the Jewish Cultural Center of the capital Ljubljana wrote in a statement. The court ordered a retrial for Rupnik, the Nazis’ puppet ruler for Slovenia.” (Jewish Telegraphic Agency)

 

  • Kosovo’s prosecutors have filed terrorism charges against a man and woman repatriated from ISIS. They face up to 15 years in prison if convicted.

 

  • “A prosecutor in Kosovo has demanded that two Russian nationals detained in the north of the country on suspicion of illegally crossing the border from Serbia be fined for their actions. Nikola Kabasic, chief of the Basic Court in the city of Mitrovica, on January 14 told RFE/RL that the court has received prosecutor Slobodan Bakic’s request that the two Russians — a man and a woman — be fined and that a decision is likely on January 15.” (RFE/RL)

 

  • Bosnian companies owe over $263M in back taxes. A recently released list named and shamed the top offenders.

 

  • ENERGY: Slovenia has become the latest nation to set the goal of carbon neutrality by 2050. The government of Republika Srpska announced it will soon begin the construction of two hydro power plants in Visegrad.

 

  • CRIME: A protected witness of the Kosovo’s Special Prosecutor’s Office was murdered last month outside of Pristina. Over 200 members of the Kosovo Liberation Army have been interviewed by the Specialist Chambers in The Hague.

 

IN OTHER NEWS…
  • SPORT: Serbia’s Uros Plavsic was ruled eligble by the NCAA after transferring from Arizona State University to Tennessee to play basketball.
  • ENTERTAINMENT: Macedonian film Honeyland is nominated for two Academy Awards – Documentary Feature and International Feature Film
  • TRAVEL: Croatia was ranked (alongside Luxembourg and Hungary) as being in the top three hottest real estate markets in Europe. Recent statistics showed that in 2018, there were more than 100,000 sales. Price per square meter has gone up 10% year on year.