WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN THE BALKANS TODAY

WHAT’S THE FUTURE OF THE DFC IN THE BALKANS?: “The U.S. development bank has said it remains committed to supporting private investment in the Balkans amid talk that officials have discussed closing its Serbian office.

“David Marchick, chief operating officer of the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC), told RFE/RL in a statement on February 19 that the bank was dedicated to investing in the region — including in critical infrastructure and renewable energy — in light of efforts by China and Russia to gain influence in the region.

“‘We are eager to build on the DFC’s recently renewed Investment Incentive Agreements with Kosovo and Serbia, which we remain committed to, and continue our enhanced focus that began last year with the establishment of a regional DFC presence based out of the U.S. Embassy in Belgrade,’ he said in the statement.” (RFE/RL)

GERMANY, FRANCE ON ELECTIONS & DIALOGUE: German Ambassador to Kosovo Jörn Rohde congratulated Albin Kurti and Vjosa Osmani on the election victory and called for a “swift formation of the government and election of the President, once the results are finalised.” Amb. Rohde, writing on Twitter on behalf of Germany and France, highlighted they are ready to support next government’s agenda domestically and that they “support the continuation of the EU-facilitated Dialogue.”

SPEAKING OF THE KOSOVO ELECTIONS…: The Central Election Commission ordered 494 polling stations to be recounted for a multitude of reasons including errors in transferring the votes and results of the candidates.

SNSD SLAMS BONN POWERS: Alliance of Independent Social Democrats (SNSD) Spokesperson Radovan Kovačević slammed the international legal authority of the High Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina. He said, “The High Representative has no authority to propose or impose any laws. This is a clear and unambiguous position of political representatives from the RS. Nobody in Republika Srpska will respect something like that.” High Representative Valentin Inzko on Monday said he would administer a Law Against the Denial of Srebrenica Genocide.

EU’S SATTLER CALLS FOR INT’L PRESENCE REDUCED IN BiH: EU Ambassador to Bosnia Johann Sattler said the international community in Bosnia should be scaled down because it does not meet the requirements of the European Union.

  • “We have seen the candidacy proposal made by Germany, which is a positive signal. We welcome the indication of a strong engagement of Germany, as the strongest country in the European Union. In the medium and long term – this extent of the international community’s presence in BiH is incompatible with EU membership. We are in stages where we should strive to gradually reduce this presence,” said Sattler
  • He added, ““The percentage is lower in Republika Srpska (RS) entity, but it is much better compared to the region. Statistics are an indicator that the EU is your most loyal partner, and that was also shown during the pandemic.”

MIJALKOV DISAPPEARS FROM N. MACEDONIA: Former Head of the Secret Police of N. Macedonia Sasho Mijaklov has been unreachable by authorities in Skopje. He is awaiting a verdict in a court case involving a massive wiretapping program during the government of disgraced former PM Nikola Gruevski who also disappeared before a court date to turn up in Viktor Orban’s Hungary. Skopje has issued both a national and international arrest warrant for Mijaklov’s arrest. Media in N. Macedonia speculates that Mijalkov and eleven associates have fled the country.

COVID CORNER: Croatia began mass vaccinations in the capital Zagreb. A shipment of 50,000 doses of the Sputnik V vaccine arrived in Belgrade. Serbia’s PM Ana Brnabić refused to say how much Serbia has spent on vaccines. She said, “The price is not discussed by any country, not even the European Union which negotiates collectively.” She added that they have signed contracts for 12,332,200 doses and have already received just shy of two million doses.

VEČERNJI LISTL SPECULATES ON VWP DATE: Croatian daily Večernji List speculates that the country could enter into the U.S. Visa Waiver Program by September 30. The U.S. Embassy in Croatia recently announced the visa denial rate had dropped below the required 3%.
IN OTHER NEWS
OP-ED: “New Cold War will fuel tensions in Southeast, Central Europe” by Maxim Samorukov in Balkan InsightANALYSIS: “Ethnic Discord, Covert Tapes Animate North Macedonia Murder Trial” by Siniša Jakov Marušić in Balkan Insight

ANALYSIS: “In Hostile Serbian Parliament, MP Fights for Rights of ‘Enemy’ Albanians” by Milica Stojanović in Balkan Insight

CULTURE: “Albania’s Neglected Landmark Cape Awaits Helping Hand” by Përparim Isufaj in Balkan Insight

TRAVEL: “Croatia Opens Its Doors To Digital Nomads” by Geoffrey Morrison in Forbes

TRAVEL: “72 Percent less Passengers transported at Airports in Bosnia” in The Sarajevo Times

TRAVEL: “Summer season expected to be ‘saved’ by domestic tourists” in The Slovenia Times