WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN THE BALKANS TODAY
- Meanwhile, the Office of the Prime Minister released a statement highlighting Janša’s willingness to work on the issue.
- Janša underscored, “As for the position of the Slovenian government, we do not want to hide anything, unlike previous governments, we are ready to talk about anything that anyone thinks is a problem affecting the rule of law and the freedom of the media in Slovenia, we just want enough time to present also the other side of the issue and, of course, we invite everyone who thinks that anything is wrong to come to Slovenia and get to know the situation directly.”
- He added that he doubts “anyone in Latvia, Luxembourg or Portugal is interested in this, the same as it is likely that no one from Slovenia monitors the media situation in Latvia or Portugal in particular.”
- Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić on Friday said parts of the report are “naked lies” and that MEPs are “lost in time and space.”
- “I am proud of the fact that I am delegitimizing Kosovo’s statehood and I will continue to do so despite the European Parliament, in spite of the European Parliament and for the glory of Serbia,” added Vučić.
- Minister of Internal Affairs Aleksandar Vulin on Friday said Serbia should reconsider its policy towards the European Union.
- A State Department spokesperson told Euronews that “We continue to believe Kosovo’s institutions should provide full, complete, and unambiguous support to the Specialist Chambers and the Specialist Prosecutor’s Office.”
- And added, “This is essential to the rule of law, justice, and accountability in Kosovo, as well as the country’s further integration in the Euro-Atlantic family and international community.”
- But the spokesperson declined to comment on President Biden’s previous comments when he referred to former President Hashim Thaci as “Kosovo’s George Washington.” Thaci remains at The Hague.
MONTENEGRIN MINISTER DOWNPLAYS SREBRENICA: Montenegro’s Justice Minister Vladimir Leposavić on Friday claimed that the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia had “lost its legitimacy” and that he would recognize the Srebrenica Genocide “once this is proven unequivocally.” President of Montenegro Milo Djukanović, who is an opposition party member, said the party will be introducing a law banning the denial of genocide and called on PM Zdravko Krivokapić to comment on Leposavić’s views. The U.S., UK, and other embassies in Podgorica condemned Leposavić’s remarks and called for Montenegro to recognize the genocide.
KOSOVO OFFICIALS COMMEMORATE MASSACRE: Kosovo PM Albin Kurti and presidential candidate Vjosa Osmani visited the memorial for the Krusha e Madhe/Velika Kruša massacre. On March 25, 1999 Serb forces killed between 90 and 110 civilians in the village. Kurti and Osmani called for justice for the victims.
- PM Kurti said, “Justice has not been done and our obligation is to work with the future Institute researching war crimes and activation of the Special Prosecution in order to heal wounds of war, and shed the light on the fate of the missing persons by delivering justice.”
- “We have certainly given a priority to missing persons and crimes committed during the war in our relations with Serbia because we can’t have a future, peace, justice and progress unless we deal with those horrific crimes committed against our people,” added Kurti.
- Dodik said, “We have the right to say how we will elect our member of the Presidency, and we believe that a president who has dynamics and is familiar with all the details for RS should also be a member of the Presidency.”
- “In the RS, it is needed to reach a consensus on that regard and that it should be done like this because in that way the RS can defend itself more,” added Dodik.
- He concluded, “A serious policy was for us to get out of the ‘Sejdic-Finci’ story and not be collateral of the story that is happening in the Federation of BiH (FBiH). As we said, in the RS person is elected by direct vote, so please finish your process, and when you define it, we can agree on amendments to the Election Law.”
NATO MARKS N. MACEDONIA ANNIVERSARY: NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg marked the one year anniversary of N. Macedonia joining NATO. In a video message to N. Macedonia’s leaders, Stoltenberg underscored the benefits of NATO membership and the significant achievement it was for Skopje to join the alliance.
BULGARIA-N. MACEDONIA IN ROW OVER BOOKS: The Bulgarian Embassy in Skopje sent a letter of protest to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of N. Macedonia after 920 books for the Bulgarian Cultural and Information Center were stopped at the border. The book is titled, “Bulgarian Folk Songs by the Miladinov Brothers.”
- Bosniak Member of the Presidency Džaferović noted, “If pipes are placed across the border, that constitutes a violation of Bosnia’s territorial integrity. This is a very serious issue for the border police, State Investigation and Protection Agency (SIPA) and Bosnia’s state attorney.”
- And added, “That is anarchy and abuse and someone will have to answer for it.”
- Bosnian Croat Member of the Presidency Komšić called on Croatia to not interfere in BiH. He said, “The Government of the Republic of Croatia must necessarily stop all works on the gas pipeline. This is a complete scandal and a blow to the sovereignty of the state of BiH.”
- Deputy Speaker Zvizdić said, “The Sava river is the internationally recognized border between Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Republic of Croatia and any interventions in the border area represent a severe violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina if not approved by the state. This is why I am requesting this agreement to be declared void, as well as everything that resulted from it.”
- Bogićević wrote, “Mr. Chairman, don’t expect my statement on today’s ‘election’ for mayor of Sarajevo, because that vote was completely pointless. Two days ago, I publicly and irrevocably withdrew my candidacy and informed both the proposer and the public. Irrevocable withdrawal means a final decision, which cannot be discussed further. Therefore, I did not agree to remain a candidate, so I could not be elected. It is very incorrect that not a single word at today’s session even mentioned my IRREVOCABLE withdrawal of the candidacy.”
- Croatia is set to receive extra Pfizer vaccines through the EU as compensation for the slow rollout and distribution of the vaccine doses. PM Andrej Plenković hopes to vaccinate half of the population by summer.
- Kosovo received 24,000 doses of AstraZeneca on Sunday through the COVAX vaccination program. It became the last country in Europe to start the immunization process.
- Serbia’s vaccine diplomacy has led to citizens of neighboring countries visiting the country to get vaccinated. The Serbian Chamber of Commerce offered to vaccinate business owners from neighboring countries as well. Meanwhile, at home, Serbia has begun vaccinating migrants after a surge in Covid-19 cases.
OP-ED: “Why you should outsource in Kosovo” by Pierre Dawson in Global Trade MagazineOP-ED: “Montenegro was a success story in troubled Balkan region – now its democracy is in danger” by Marc L. Greenberg in The Conversation
OP-ED: “For Migrants In Bosnia, The ‘Game’ Is A Perilous Journey To A Better Life” by Elisa Oddone in NPR
ANALYSIS: “Russia Floats Flagrant Falsehoods on the Anniversary of NATO’s Kosovo Air Campaign” by William Echols in Polygraph.info
ANALYSIS: “The Wounds of the Bosnian Genocide Haven’t Healed” by Riada Asimović Akyol in Foreign Policy
ANALYSIS: “Serbia Hails Chinese Companies as Saviors, but Locals Chafe at Costs” by Andrew Higgins in The New York Times
ANALYSIS: “Unregulated and Unlicensed, War Memorials Proliferate in Kosovo Towns” by Serbeze Haxhiaj in Balkan Insight
BLOG: “Jansa, disconnected“by Clare Nuttall in bne Intellinews
HUMAN INTEREST: “In Wake Of Colorado Shooting, A Serbian Community Mourns” in WOSU
HISTORY: “The Bungled Assassination that led to World War I” by Bob Perkins in The Patch
CULTURE: “Croatian Wine Dream Comes True Without Leaving One’s Homeland” by Catherine Todd in Forbes
WORLD CUP QUALIFYING: Albania was downed by England 2-0. Croatia edged past Cyprus 1-0. Kosovo lost at home to Sweden 3-0. Montenegro beat Gibralter 4-1. N. Macedonia topped Liechtenstein 5-0. Serbia drew Slovenia 2-2. Russia beat Slovenia 2-1.