WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN THE BALKANS TODAY
U.S.-ADRIATIC CHARTER MEETING: The U.S. Department of Defense released a readout of the U.S. Adriatic Charter meeting on November 30 hosted by Chair Bosnia and Herzegovina and attended by representatives of Albania, Croatia, Kosovo, Montenegro, N. Macedonia, and Slovenia. Anthony Tata, Performing Duties of Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, represented the U.S. Department of Defense.
  • The readout highlights, “The purpose of the session was to discuss multilateral security priorities and strengthen NATO’s strategic partnerships in Southeast Europe. The leaders shared lessons learned from the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and the importance of regional cooperation to meet new, shared security challenges.
  • “Representatives also discussed strengthening regional security, combatting malign influence in Southeast Europe, and NATO’s “Open Door” policy. All sides reaffirmed their commitment to build upon this year’s successes of the A5 as Croatia takes over as the 2021 Chair.”
INZKO ON KARADZIC PLAQUE: High Representative  Valentin Inzko called on Bosnian Serb Member of the Presidency Milorad Dodik to remove the plaque honoring war criminal Radovan Karadzci on a dorm in Pale. In the interview with Germany’s Der Standard news outlet, Inzko also commented on the Arria-formula meeting initiated by Russia in the UN Security Council.
  • Inzko said, “Dodik spoke for 30 minutes. He called me and former high representative Lord Paddy Ashdown the criminals. All Security Council members criticized the glorification of war criminals, like the plaque for the war criminal Radovan Karadzic in Pale. Dodik proposed we go together and remove it. I don’t intend to remove the plaque honoring war criminal Karadzic who was sentenced to life in prison. It has to be preceded by law changes or regulation, and then the plaque should be either replaced or removed. That should be done by the one who ordered, put and solemnly unveiled it, and that is Milorad Dodik.”
CROATIAN EEC ANNOUNCED: The ruling Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) announced it plans to unveil an exclusive economic zone (EEC) in the Adriatic Sea before December 15.
  • Chairman of the HDZ party in Croatian Parliament Branko Bacic announced, “The foreign ministers of Croatia and Italy, Gordan Grlic Radman and Luigi Di Maio, had a ministerial conference in Zagreb yesterday and agreed on declaring exclusive economic zones in the Adriatic together.”
  • He added, “Now we think that the conditions have been met for Croatia to declare, in a spirit of good neighborly relations and in a European spirit, the remaining components of the economic zone that were not included in the ecological and fisheries protection zone.”
  • Most importantly, Bacic highlighted, “When Italy declares its exclusive economic zone in its part of the Adriatic, the European Commission’s fisheries measures will apply both to our and to their exclusive economic zone, as well as to all other exclusive economic zones declared by EU member states.”
  • Meanwhile, Slovenian FM Anze Logar is set to discuss Italy’s EEC in the Adriatic with counterpart Luigi Di Maio on a visit to Rome on December 10.

LOCAL ELECTION FRAUD: Bosnia’s State Investigation and Protection Agency (SIPA) in coordination with Republika Srpska and Canton of Tuzla’s Ministry of Interior arrested three members of the Bosniak Social Democratic Party (SDP) for voter fraud. The SDP favored Bosnian Serb Mladen Grujicic in local elections on November 15. The Central Election Commission will meet on Thursday to discuss annulling the elections in Srebrenica and Doboj.

UNITED KINGDOM + KOSOVO: Kosovo PM Avdullah Hoti signed a Memorandum of Understanding with U.K. Ambassador Nicholas Abbott to provide assistance to Kosovo in the dialogue with Serbia.

  • PM Avdullah Hoti wrote on Facebook, “The Government of Great Britain continues supporting Kosovo institutions,  Today, jointly with the Ambassador Nicholas Abbott, we have signed the MoU, enabling UK to offer  support for the Council of Experts and my Office, in the dialogue process with Serbia, which is facilitated by the EU.”

SLOVENIA DEFUNDS STA: The Government of Slovenia under PM Janez Jansa has taken measures to stop funding for the Slovenian Press Agency (STA) by the Government Communication Office (UKOM).

KOSOVO SPECIALIST CHAMBERS: “The Kosovo Specialist Chambers published on Monday a redacted decision by a pre-trial judge confirming an indictment against former President Hashim Thaci and three former fellow guerrilla commanders accusing them of crimes against humanity and war crimes during and after the 1998-99 Kosovo war.”According to the more than 200 page document, the decision to confirm the indictment was taken by pre-trial judge Nicolas Guillou on October 16.” (Balkan Insight)

EC APPROVES CROATIAN AIRLINES GRANT: “The European Commission has approved state aid to Croatia Airlines in the amount of HRK 88.5 million (€11.7 million), awarded as compensation for losses incurred by the company due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”‘The European Commission has found a Croatian grant of €11.7 million to the state-owned airline Croatia Airlines to be in line with EU State aid rules,’ the EC said.” (N1)

CONTOUR TAKES KOSOVO TO ARBITRATION: According to Kosovo’s Ministry of Economy, Contour Global is taking Pristina to the International Arbitration Court over the financial closing of the Kosova e Re/New Kosovoa power plant project that was nixed earlier this year.

  • The Ministry of Economy wrote in a press release, “The Ministry of Economy and Environment has received the notification from the International Arbitration Court (International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes), through which we have been notified about the opening of the dispute with the investor Contour Global.
  • “On 24.05.2020 it was foreseen to make the Financial Closing of the Power Plant project ‘Kosova e Re/New Kosova’. This was not achieved in time and after the failure of several attempts to resolve the dispute by agreement, the request for arbitration was filed in the International Court of Arbitration by the investor Contour Global.”

GET WELL SOON!: Archbishop of the Catholic Church in Bosnia and Herzegovina Vinko Puljic has tested positive for Covid-19. We wish the archbishop a speedy recovery.

IN OTHER NEWS

OP-ED: “Kosovo is Crimea: Pro-Russian narratives in Serbia driven by domestic politics?” by Nikola Burazer in European Western Balkans

OP-ED: “Past grievances in the Western Balkans must not render EU enlargement clinically dead” by Ana Milosevic in The Brussels Times

OP-ED: “The Sofia-Skopje rivalry and NATO” by Stavros Tzimas in Ekathimerini

ANALYSIS: “What’s behind the public spat between Serbia and Montenegro?” by Orlando Crowcroft in Euro News

CULTURE: “Wine Border Regions – Austria & Slovenia (Styria / Štajerska)” by Christopher Walkey in Glass of Bubbly

SPORT: “Slovenia qualify for 2022 EuroBasket in Ljubljana ‘bubble’” in The Slovenia Times

TRAVEL: “Beauty of River Una and City of Bihac in 4K Video” in The Sarajevo Times

TRAVEL: “A Road Trip Along the Balkan Peninsula” by Satarupa Mitra in Outlook India