WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN THE BALKANS TODAY

U.S. SELLS ARMS TO CROATIA: The U.S. Department of Defense cleared the weapons sale of a combined $1.55 billion to Brazil, Canada, Croatia, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and South Korea.

  • According to Defense News, “The largest dollar value of the announced FMS cases comes from Croatia, which seeks to spend $757 million on refurbishing its 76 M2A2 Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicles. The NATO ally operates older models dating to Operation Desert Storm, and is looking to upgrade capabilities.
  • “In addition to maintenance, upgraded radios, armor and simulators, the package includes 84 M240 machine guns, 1,103 TOW 2A radio frequency missiles, 100 TOW 2B radio frequency missiles and 500 TOW bunker buster radio frequency missiles. Work will primarily be done by BAE Systems’ York, Pennsylvania, facility as well as Raytheon Missile Systems in Tucson, Arizona.”

INCOMING BIDEN ADMINISTRATION: “There are high hopes for relaunching transatlantic relations after Joe Biden’s win in the US presidential election, a debate held by the European Parliament Information Office in Slovenia heard on Tuesday. Participants said that respect for human rights, the rule of law and liberal democracy was again becoming key on both sides of the Atlantic.

“The debate featured US Democratic senator Bob Menendez, MEPs David McAllister and Danuta Hübner (both EPP), Slovenian MEPs Tanja Fajon (S&D/SD) and Klemen Grošelj (Renew/LMŠ), and former High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini.” (Slovenia Times)

FROM DAYTON TO BRUSSELS: EU Special Representative to the Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue Miroslav Lajcak and EU Commissioner for Neighborhood and Enlargement Oliver Varhelyi yesterday addressed the EU and national parliaments of the Western Balkans on 25 years since the Dayton Peace Accords.

  • Varhelyi noted, “Bosnia and Herzegovina applied for EU membership in 2016 and the time has come to move from the Dayton to Brussels.”
  • Meanwhile, Lajcak pointed out the Kosovo-Serbia Dialogue is a major concern for the EU. He said ,”It is time to look ahead. The challenges we face will not be solved on their own, but require efforts of the international community and local politicians.”

RUSSIA DISAGREES WITH PIC: The Peace Implementation Council (PIC) released a communique supporting the international administration under the Office of the High Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bosnia’s territorial integrity under a two-entity system, Covid-19 efforts, and efforts to address the migrant crisis. Read the full communique HERE.

Meanwhile, the Russian Embassy in Bosnia released its a statement echoing the PIC’s support for Bosnia’s territorial integrity, but distanced itself on the migrant crisis and High Representative. Russia believes the migrant crisis should be solved with a long-term solution instead of housing migrants within Bosnia. Furthermore, it claims the High Representative “often becomes a source of local problems” instead of solving resolving issues.

KRIVOKAPIC ADDRESSES MNE PARLIAMENT: PM-designate Zdravko Krivkokapic addressed Montenegrin Parliament about the incoming government’s key priorities. Krivokapic pinpointed economic policy including competitiveness, and reviewing the Law on Religious Freedom. He added the government will tackle “the unavoidable media freedom and the judiciary’s effectiveness, a new government would also focus on fighting climate changes, appropriate social policy and employment.” Montenegro’s Parliament is set to debate the new government over the course of the coming days.

KOSOVO + EULEX: Kosovo FM Meliza Haradinaj-Stublla met with the head of the EU’s rule of law mission (EULEX) in Kosovo Lars Gunnar Wigemark. FM Haradinaj-Stublla tweeted they discussed the “current political developments in #Kosovo & region. Reiterated that @EULEXKosovo can play a significant role in updating Brussels & EU member states on 🇽🇰’s progress in ROL & accelerate #visalib agenda” and “Also discussed concerns in delays to open #Ibër bridge, in context of Freedom of Movement agreement.”

LNG TO CROATIA: “The ‘LNG Croatia’ vessel sailed into Omisalj on the island of Krk on Tuesday, bringing the first amounts of liquefied natural gas for the trial operation of the Omisalj floating terminal. On this occasion, Economy and Sustainable Development Minister Tomislav Coric said that Croatia was now provided with an alternative supply route and that the country thus earned its place on the energy map of the world.

“This act means the realisation of all that has been dreamed of since 1993, the minister underscored. The ‘LNG Croatia’ has a storage capacity of 140,000 cubic metres, with a nominal LNG regasification capacity of 300,000 m3/h, or an annual capacity of 2.6 billion cubic metres.” (Croatia Week)

GERMANY HELPING OUT BiH: The German Embassy in BiH announced a 5 million euro in Covid-19 aid for Bosnia to be allocated for small and medium sized enterprises to counter the effects of Covid-19.

PFIZER TO SERBIA: Speaking of Covid-19, Pfizer and its German partner BioNT on Wednesday applied to register a Covid-19 vaccine in Serbia

DON’T MISS IT: Johns Hopkins SAIS is hosting a two-hour event on Serbia & Kosovo: What Do Citizens Think? with a local Serbian and Kosovar think tank. More information is available HERE.

IN OTHER NEWS

OP-ED: “The Dayton Accords at 25” by Daniel Serwer in The Foreign Service Journal

OP-ED: “Bosnia’s Municipal Election Results – a Small Step Forward” by Jasmin Mujanovic in Balkan Insight

OP-ED: “What lurks behind Bulgaria’s ‘veto’ on North Macedonia’s accession talks?” by Radosveta Vassileva in New Eastern Europe

ANALYSIS: “Russia donates tanks to Serbia, NATO does not see it as a problem” in European Western Balkans