WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN THE BALKANS TODAY

DŽAFEROVIĆ ON BIDEN ADMINISTRATION: Bosniak Member of the Presidency Šefik Džaferović warned that the Biden Administration could face difficulties with secessionism. He also was highlighted President Joe Biden’s vision for Bosnia and Herzegovina which laid out Biden’s aim for Bosnia during his presidency.

  • “During his campaign, President Biden announced the agenda when it comes to Bosnia and Herzegovina. The program said that it was the Euro-Atlantic integration and stabilization of the situation in BiH,” said Džaferović.
  • He added, “I expect that during Biden’s administration, BiH will, of course with an agreement with Brussels, make a strong step forward on its European and NATO path and that reforms will be carried out that will remove the blockades that are present in the BiH institutions.”
  • “It’s not that either the state or the entity are facing an uncertain future. BiH is a multiethnic state in which all peoples should be equal. However, an uncertain future is coming for secessionist policies and policies of institutional blockade” said the Bosniak Member of the Presidency.

SERBIAN FM ON TRUMP, BIDEN, AND KOSOVO: Serbian FM Nikola Selaković responded to a statement by the U.S. Embassy in Belgrade which said that former President Trump and President Biden sent the same messages to Serbia on national day about Kosovo. Selaković said, “The normalization of Belgrade-Pristina relations, as viewed by President Trump in last year’s message and the issue of mutual recognition mentioned by President Biden do not hold the same meaning either formally and legally or in material terms, not even close to the same.”

U.S. AMB IN ALBANIA WARNS OF MP ON BLACKLIST: As Albania gears up for the April 25 parliamentary elections, U.S. Ambassador to Yuri Kim warned of having MPs who have been banned from entering the U.S. by the State Department. She wrote on Twitter, “As Albania’s election authorities prepare elections, it is worth recalling this designation, which was made by the US Secretary of State after careful review of information. Surely, Albania’s voters deserve better than this” citing a MP Tom Doshi’s designation role in significant corruption.

17+1 TAKES CENTER STAGE, VIRTUALLY: China’s 17+1 Summit convened virtually yesterday and focused on Covid-19. While most of Central and Eastern Europe sent a head of state, six countries – Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, and Slovenia – decided to send a minister.

  • China’s Xi Jinping announced an increase imports from Central and Eastern Europe to $170 billion over the next five years.
  • Chairman and Serb Member of the Bosnian Presidency Milorad Dodik welcomed China’s initiatives were welcome. He said, “The format of cooperation between China and Central and East Europe countries enables us to overcome numerous difficulties that our countries are facing through an open, coordinated and innovative approach.”
  • Croatian PM Andrej Plenković thanked China’s Xi Jingping for efforts to stop the Covid-19 pandemic and spoke about bilateral relations. He said, “In this regard, Croatia is particularly focused on infrastructure, science and innovation, tourism, mobility and small and medium-sized enterprises. At the same time, Croatia advocates a free market according to equal rules, reciprocity in access to markets, sustainable development and the fight against climate change.”
  • Montenegrin President Milo Djukanović reaffirmed Montenegro-China relations and highlighted his meetings in the previous days with Chinese companies which are interested in investing in the Port of Bar and various infrastructure projects.
  • Politika reports that Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić announced that Xi Jinping agreed to visit Serbia. Xi last visited Serbia in 2016.
  • Read more about the summit at RFE/RL: Chinese Summit Gets Chilly Reception From Central, Eastern European Countries and China continues with projects in the Balkans – Serbia, BiH and Montenegro are satisfied (in Bosnian/Croatian/Montenegrin/Serbian)

SLOVAK FM CONTINUES BALKAN TRIP: Slovak FM Ivan Korčok yesterday visited Bosnia and Montenegro where he met with leaders of the country.

  • In Bosnia, Korčok met with counterpart Bisera Turković and Chairman of the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina Zoran Tegeltija. He underscored Slovakia’s support for Bosnia’s EU path, the EUFOR mission, and Covid relief. He delivered 35,555 euros to three municipalities from SlovakAid.
  • In Montenegro, the Slovak FM met with FM Djordje Radulović and PM Zdravko Krivokapić and reaffirmed Slovakia’s support for Montenegro and encouraged reforms to continue its EU accession process. Korčok also delivered 15,000 PCR tests to Montenegro.

SLOVENIA TO DOWNSIZE KFOR PRESENCE: Slovenia’s Defense Minister Matej Tonin announced the decision to reduce the number of Slovenian troops participating in the KFOR Mission due to force realignment. Tonin visited Slovenian troops in Kosovo with Chief of the General Staff of the Slovenian Army, Major General Robert Glavaš.

MACRON TO ATTEND BRDO-BRIJUNI SUMMIT: Slovenian President Borut Pahor yesterday received a letter from French counterpart Emmanuel Macron confirming his attendance at the Brdo-Brijuni Process Summit. No date has been set for the summit because of Covid-19.

THE WEST’S STATEMENT ON ELECTIONS IN MOSTAR: The OSCE Mission to BiH, the EU Delegation/EU Special Representative, the Embassy of the UK, the Embassy of the US, and the OHR penned a joint statement calling for the first elections in Mostar in the past twelve years to respect the rules and regulations for municipal elections. It says, “This decision (to hold a public vote) contravenes Article 36 of the Statute of Mostar, which states that the elections in the City Council must be conducted by secret ballot” and “call on the City Council to bring its voting procedures back into compliance with the Statute of Mostar and to repeat the first round of elections for the mayor of Mostar. A country aspiring to become an EU Member State must adhere to the principles of the rule of law.”

HDZ-BiH TO BOYCOTT ELECTION: Bosnian Croat political party HDZ-BiH says it will boycott the April 11 elections in Travnik. The party claims its candidate should have become the mayor after last year’s municipal elections on November 15 which were won by the Bosniak SDA whose candidate won the election but passed away on the same day. HDZ-BiH argues the second place candidate should become mayor.

SERBIA AIMS TO BUILD BUSINESS WITH DIASPORA: “The Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Serbia’s online platform ‘Poslovni Atlas Srbije i Dijaspore’ (The Business Atlas of Serbia and the Diaspora) is intended to connect companies from Serbia with companies in the diaspora.

“‘The platform will be finished by the end of March and will be fully functional by the end of the year,’ said Djordje Andric, coordinator of the Centre for Investment and Partnership Support of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Serbia (PKS).

“At the webinar ‘Diaspora and Donations,’ organized as part of the project ‘Alternative Financing and Donations for Local Communities in Serbia,’ and hosted by NALED and the German Development Cooperation (GIZ), Andric said that the platform will enable easy and fast connection of Serbian and diaspora companies and entrepreneurs, as well as the diaspora with foreign companies.” (Serbian Monitor)

IN OTHER NEWS

OP-ED: “Time for Kosovo to secure its true independence” by Alon Ben-Meir in Emerging Europe

ANALYSIS: “Montenegrin Government Takes Tough Line on Harmful Hydropower Plants” by Samir Kajosević in Balkan Insight

ANALYSIS: “Serbian President’s ‘Best Man’ Linked to Businessman with Organized Crime Ties” by Dragan Pećo and Vesna Radojević in OCCRP

ANALYSIS: “Serbia: the battle for the TV market” by Vukašin Obradović in Osservatario Balcani e Caucaso Transeuropa

ENVIRONMENT: “‘No One Wants To Live Here’: A Pollution Hot Spot In Bosnia” (VIDEO) by Ray Furlong in RFE/RL

CULTURE: “Five Spots for a Delicious & Quick Bite in Sarajevo” in The Sarajevo Times

ENTERTAINMENT: “War Dogs Ending, Explained” by Nishan Chakrabartty in The Cinemaholic

TRAVEL: “Digital Nomad Life in Croatia: Megumi Hosogai, from Hawaii to Opatija” by Paul Bradbury in Total Croatia News