WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN THE BALKANS TODAY

  • US Ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina Eric Nelson appeared on N1 TV with his partner, Filippo Tattoni-Marcozzi, and said that, despite initially reading messages of hate on the internet about an LGBT ambassador coming to BiH, he was “surprised by the warm welcome which we both received.” He also praised BiH for having a successful first Pride Parade, but noted it was the last country in Europe to do so, and that BiH is “at the beginning of the road” for LBGT rights.
  • Croatia’s 11 presidential hopefuls took part on Monday night in a two hour debate broadcasted on Croatian Radio Television (HRT). They discussed corruption, migrants and the military at the border, NATO membership , the Cyrillic alphabet, and LGBT rights. the Watch the full debate (in Croatian) here. Croatians go to the polls on December 22nd.
  • Croatian PM Andrej Plenkovic said the International Monetary Fund (IMF) report on Croatia was “positive.”. He added, “Contrary to previous governments we don’t have economic growth based on loans to be paid by future generations, but rather based on healthy growth. Healthy growth means lowering the debt of previous goveSerbrnments, not only lowering the deficit but also balancing the budget and achieving a surplus. This is one of the reasons why we have an investment credit rating, a reason why we are moving forward well towards the European Exchange Rate Mechanism II as the first step towards introducing the Euro.”
  • Serbia and Slovenia held the fifth joint cabinet session between the two parliaments to discuss European prospects and the migrant crisis in the region. PM of Slovenia Marjan Sarec and PM of Serbia Ana Brnabic chaired the session.
  • PM of N. Macedonia Zoran Zaev led a delegation to Czechia and met with counterpart Andrej Babis. They discussed greater economic cooperation and N. Macedonia’s European integration.
  • Montenegrin PM Dusko Markovic emphasized Montenegro’s role in NATO and hopes to join the European Union “when the conditions are met” at a meeting with the newly appointed Greek ambassador to Montenegro.
  • Meanwhile, Montenegro’s FM Srdjan Darmanovic highlighted his country’s role in accepting 130,000 refugees during the wars in the 1990s at the Global Refugee Forum at UN Headquarters in Geneva and that Montenegro looks forward to adhering to the 2030 agenda.
  • Meanwhile, in the north of Kosovo, Serbs have taken up posts after being appointed by Belgrade despite no formation of the government in Pristina. Despite Srpska Lista winning all the seats reserved for ethnic Serbs in Kosovo, likely PM Albin Kurti would rather appoint an ethnic Serb minister from a different party.
  • Outgoing Kosovo FM Behgjet Pacolli took to Twitter to claim he has documents on war crimes committed by Serbia. He wrote, I handed over to #Kosovo’s Prosecutor thousands of materials that prove the Serbian genocidal policy against #Kosovo & the mass killings by YU (Yugoslav) army, MUP (Ministry of Interior), Belgrade controlled paramilitary &other local armed groups. They all walk free in Belgrade. Int justice failed on these crimes.” And added, “Today the same MUP, the same Belgrade falsified documents that have been used by corrupt Dick Marty. It’s the same like using the Nazi’s to prosecute Jews who fought for freedom. This won’t be allowed. We will show the truth to the world. We will prevent revisionism on #Kosovo.”
  • Serbia’s whistleblower on the Krusik arms plant, Aleksandar Obradovic, called the arms deals “painful for the regime.”
  • But Serbian Defense Minister Aleksandar Vulin described the situation as “an operation” as opposed to “an affair.”
  • Meanwhile, the Ministry of Internal Affairs confirmed that 50,000 rounds of ammunition was destroyed at the Technical Maintenance Depot in Kragujevac.
  • “The joint Macedonian and Bulgarian commission for historical issues may not work again warns its co-president on the Bulgarian side, Dr. Angel Dimitrov, writes mediapool.bg. ‘On the Macedonian side, the work of the commission was simply stopped with an argument that they have to adjust to the early elections in April. They refuse to meet again and talk. It remains a mystery whether in May the commission will start working again and whether it will start at all’ said Dimitrov.” (Meta)
  • Iran’s Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance Seyyed Abbas Saleh met with Slovenian Ambassador Christina Radi to reaffirm strong cultural ties and sign an agreement to enhance cultural and artistic relations between the two countries.
  • Bosnia’s Oslobodjenje reports that an unnamed American investor is interested in financing the construciton of a railway line between Vares and Banovici.
  • “Hundreds of sex workers and rights activists in North Macedonia, where prostitution is illegal, have marched through the capital of Skopje on Tuesday to protest alleged police brutality and indifference to their complaints of violence.” (AP News)
  • “An Israeli-Chinese consortium led by M.T. Abraham Group from Tel Aviv said on Tuesday it was ready to immediately relaunch production at aluminium smelter Aluminij in Mostar, southern Bosnia and Herzegovina if the owners of the ailing company accept their offer of a long-term lease.” (N1)
  • “NLB, the leading bank on the Slovenian market, has submitted a binding bid to take over Komercijalna Banka, Serbia’s second-largest bank, in which the state has a 83% stake, according to a report by the Serbian newspaper Blic.” (Slovenia Times)
  • “Just over a year after its launch, the Ljubljana-based European Blockchain Hub, a cooperative designed to act as a platform bringing together blockchain stakeholders, has declared bankruptcy. The District Court of Ljubljana called on creditors to report their claims by 13 March.” (Slovenia Times)
  • A star and expoplanet were named after Bosnia and the Nerevata River – their official names: Bosona and Naron.
  • ENERGY: “The Russian owners of the Bosanski Brod oil refinery in northern Bosnia said on Tuesday they had begun the construction of a gas network within the plant, which has been out of operation since October 2018 and running up debts for years. The Zarubezhneft company, which owns the oil refinery, informed the Republika Srpska Minister of Spatial Planning and Environment, Srebrenka Gojic, that it was continuing the overhaul of the plant, adding that work had begun on a gas network within the plant to ensure the use of natural gas in oil refining, which should reduce hazardous emissions.” (N1)
  • MIGRANTS: Amnesty International finds Croatia’s pushback of migrants to be contentious and lawful – a suspicion they had for some time.
  • CRIME: The first indictment against Agrokor’s Ivica Todorvic was upheld in Zagreb courts. Bosnia and Herzegovina denied Turkey’s request to extradite school principal Fatih Keksin on suspicion of being a Gulenist. Police in Bosnia and Herzegovina worked with Serbian counterparts to break up a ring of migrant smugglers. A total of 7 suspects were arrested.
IN OTHER NEWS…

 

  • HUMAN INTEREST: “Career confessions of an atypical law school graduate” by Jason Tashea in ABA Jounral: “In May 2012, my professional outlook was bleak. I was wrapping up three unenvious years of law school, confident I didn’t want to practice and saddled with about $150,000 in fresh school debt. Insult to injury: I was unemployed. A month after graduation, I received the first in a string of professional lifelines: a Fulbright fellowship to the Republic of Kosovo.”
  • ENTERTAINMENT: Macedonian film “Honeyland” becomes the first film from N. Macedonia to be shortlisted since 1994 in the category of International Feature Film for the 92nd Academy Awards, or better known as the Oscars. Honeyland was chosen out of 91 international films to be on the ten film shortlist.