WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN THE BALKANS TODAY

DISMISSED:New Kosovo’s foreign minister, Glauk Konjufca, has called for the dismissal of seven ambassadors including the ambassador to the U.S., Vlora Citaku. Other ambassadors set to be dismissed include Bulgaria, the Netherlands, Hungary, France, Montenegro and Switzerland. Ambassador Citaku yesterday wrote on Twitter her intention to step down.

N.MACEDONIA, MONTENEGRIN LEADERS MEETS REEKER: Bilal Kasami, leader of ethnic Albanian party Besa, met with Acting Assistant Secretary of State Philip Reeker. Besa made a coalition with former PM Zoran Zaev’s Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM) with an eye towards the elections on April 12. Reeker is no stranger to N. Macedonia – he served as the U.S. Ambassador to the country from 2008-2011. Deputy PM of Montenegro Zoran Pazin also met with Reeker on Wednesday and discussed the Freedom of Religion Law.

RIFT IN U.S.-KOSOVO RELATIONS?: Kosovo news outlet Gazeta Express cited unnamed U.S. officials about the details of a conversation between Kosovo PM Albin Kurti and National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien. The alleged source said that Kurti remained steadfast on revoking the tariffs and O’Brien responded by saying the U.S. won’t help Kosovo’s economy if it begins to hurt and could remove the military presence, a charge which PM Kurti denies.

JANSA APPOINTED: Slovenia’s center-right leader, Janez Jansa, has been appointed as PM designate. One of his first tasks could be to tackle the Coronavirus – Slovenia confirmed the first case of the virus on Wednesday.

NATO IN CROATIA: NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg was in Zagreb to attend a meeting of EU defense ministers in Croatia. He met with PM Andrej Plenkovic and President Zoran Milanovic and thanked them for Croatia’s continued support of NATO missions in places such as Afghanistan, Iraq, and Kosovo.

DERECOGNITION CAMPAIGN: While on a visit to Freetown, Sierra Leone, Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic claims the country revoked its recognition of Kosovo which would mean Kosovo would not be recognized by the majority of UN countries, according to Dacic. Kosovo’s foreign Minister, Glauk Konjufca denied the claims were true.

NO BIG PLAN: Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic denies there is a big plan or deal in place with Kosovo. He also reiterated there will be no discussions as long as Kosovo has the 100% tariffs in place. U.S. Presidential Envoy to the Kosovo-Serbia Dialogue Richard Grenell echoed Vucic’s statement on Twitter. Responding to an analyst Tim Judah’s prediction there would be some deal in place, Grenell responded, “Wrong. You don’t know what you are talking about. No one is trying to move quickly and there is no grand deal. You are making stuff up.”

MIGRANT WAVE: Croatian President Zoran Milanovic says the military could assist border police to prevent illegal border crossings, logistic support, transport, food, and shelter. Croatian Defense Minister Damir Krsticevic said preparations for the military to work with the police were already in motion. Bosnian Defense Minister Fahrudin Radoncic said his country could send military to the border if other countries set the trend. Nationalist Serbian opposition leader, Bosko Obradovic called for the military and police to protect the country from migrants. Bosnian Serb Member of the Presidency Milorad Dodik wrote a note to Greece’s PM and president thanking them for protecting the Balkans. N. Macedonia is asking for additional support from the international community for support with its Greek border.

LOOKING TO THE ELECTION: Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic on Wednesday set April 26 as the next parliamentary elections. Meanwhile, Serbian opposition remains steadfast in boycotting parliamentary elections on April 26. If the opposition boycotts, the current president’s party, the Serbian Progressive Party, could be set to continue its rule in the country.

NO INT’L ARBITRATION: Montenegrin Foreign Minister Srdjan Darmanovic ruled out the possibility of arbitration over the Religious Freedom Law. He said, “This is an internal issue of Montenegro and that there is no need for any kind of arbitrage. Of course, we have well-meaning advice that things need to be resolved through dialogue, which is the direction we have chosen.”

LEAKED AUDIO ROCKS BOSNIAK PARTY: The largest Bosniak party, the Party of Democratic Action (SDA), has been rocked by leaked audio that revealed corrupt deals made by officials. Deputy Director of the SDA, Asim Sarajlic, resigned as a result of the leaks.

THE SDA ACCUSES RUSSIA OF INTERFERENCE: The SDA on Wednesday accused Russia of interfering in its internal affairs after it commented on the proposal to remove foreign judges from the Constitutional Court. The SDA said, “The Russian Federation has for decades constructively contributed through the Security Council and the Peace Implementation Council, supporting the establishment and the work of the Hague tribunal and the use of the Bonn powers, but that policy has obviously changed and now its goal is to destabilize Bosnia and the region in order to make trades in geopolitical relations.Considering that Russia’s interference is open and direct, this represents a clear message to our partners, most of all to Washington but also to Brussels, that they must not allow Moscow to damage the strategic interests of the region – stability and progress toward NATO and the EU – through local anti-European and anti-NATO political parties” And added, ”

BIGGEST INVESTORS IN NMK: The national bank of N. Macedonia released figures on the origin of foreign investors. Turkey (EUR 52.4 million) tops the list followed by The Bahamas (EUR 45.6 million), Germany (EUR 44.3 million), Bermuda (EUR 29.8 million), and Holland (EUR 27.1 million).

ALBANIAN HACKERS: A group of Albanian hackers orchestrated a cyberattack against Bosnia’s Finance and Treasury Ministry. The homepage was changed to a video of Adem Jashari, images of the Kosovo Liberation Army, a map of greater Albania, and anti-Serbian messages.

MIGRANTS BUSTED: Slovenian police busted 30 migrants from Iraq, Syria, Iran and Afghanistan.

3/5/IN OTHER NEWS

ANALYSIS: “Kosovo’s new government includes most women since independence” by Valerie Plesch in Al Jazeera

HUMAN INTEREST: “Pearls in the Diaspora: Amela Ami Kazazovic, world-class graphic designer, writer and painter” by Ferhat Korajac in Oslobdjenje (in Bosnian)

CULTURE: “Croatian Wineries at Largest Wine Fair in North America” by Daniela Rogulj in Total Croatia News

ENTERTAINMENT:”Documentary Honeyland follows bees and two female keepers practising a dying art in North Macedonian mountains” by Keva Yorks in ABC (Australia)