WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN THE BALKANS TODAY

SEN. CARDIN WEIGHS IN ON SREBRENICA: U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) told Voice of America that he was “disturbed” about the reports of Montenegro’s Justice Minister Vladimir Leposavić was willing to recognize the Srebrenica Genocide “when it is established unequivocally.”
  • “The facts about what happened in Srebrenica in July 1995 have been documented. International courts have confirmed, and the international community has widely accepted, that these facts meet the definition of genocide,” said the Senator from Maryland.
  • He added, “I am disturbed that any official of any country neighboring Bosnia and Herzegovina would question that conclusion – especially someone who understands the dangerous extremes of nationalism in the Balkans and who is responsible for advancing the rule of law.”
  • Senator Cardin has been a member of the U.S. Helsinki Commission since 1993 and became chairman last week.
VUČIĆ ON SERBIA’S VACCINE DISTRIBUTION: Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić appeared on CNN to speak about Serbia’s vaccine distribution to citizens and foreigners alike.
  • He underscored, “For us, it was not a matter of geopolitics. It was a matter of saving lives.” He added, “You can get American vaccines, European, Russian, or Chinese vaccines, you can take whichever you want.”
  • Meanwhile, CNN highlighted that neighbors and other foreigners are coming to Serbia to receive the vaccine.
  • Watch the full CNN segment HERE (9:34).
  • In a separate statement, Vučić said that he would not participate in the inter-party dialogue. He said, “The important thing for me is taking part in talks with the people who do not want European officials involved. I am convinced that that dialogue will bring good things for both.”
KOSOVO’S FM AIMS TO REINVIGORATE DIPLOMATIC CORPS: Kosovo FM Donika Gërvalla told BIRN that she hopes to bring Kosovo’s foreign service back to life and commented on the Kosovo Embassy in Israel.
  • She said that the diplomatic corps was “pushed by the former leadership to take certain actions against their will.”
  • She added that Kosovo has “not (been) taken seriously by countries throughout the world.”
  • Kosovo’s FM continued that the Embassy in Israel is “closed” but underscored, “Kosovo is a small country and will seek partnership with Israel, but we want amicable relations with the Palestinian authorities as well,” after a journalist was attacked on March 28.

U.S. EMBASSY BiH ON ELECTION LAW WORKING GROUP: “The US Embassy in Bosnia welcomed the discussion in the House of Representatives on the establishment of a working group to amend the election legislation and the ‘need for meaningful inclusion’ of the Central Election Commission, civil society and other stakeholders in the process.”‘Parliament and the Council of Ministers should complete the process without further delay so that serious work on key electoral reforms can begin,’ the Embassy said.” (N1)

EC TO HELP MNE RESOLVE PUBLIC DEBT: European Commission (EC) Spokeswoman Ana Pisonero said that the EU would assist Montenegro help solve its massive public debt. She said, “The European Commission will continue to support Montenegro on its path to EU membership and in that context co-operate with the state in finding financial solutions for its investment projects and ensure the sustainability of its public debt.” Montenegro’s public debt is near 80% of GDP and 25% is a loan from China’s EXIM Bank to build the Bar-Boljare motorway.

N. MACEDONIA’S LEADERS MEET WITH CHINESE DEFENSE MINISTER: According to Chinese state-owned news outlet Xinhua reports that Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe met with counterpart Radmila Shekerinska, President of N. Macedonia Stevo Pendarovski, PM Zoran Zaev in Skopje.

  • Xinhua writes, “North Macedonia and China trust each other and enjoy friendly bilateral relations, said Pendarovski, adding that North Macedonia firmly supports the one-China policy and has full confidence in the joint construction of the Belt and Road.”
  • “North Macedonia appreciates China’s great achievements in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and thanks China for its anti-epidemic assistance, he said, expecting more frequent and in-depth exchanges and cooperation between the two countries after the situation of the pandemic improves”

DIMITROV IN LJUBLJANA: Deputy PM for European Affairs of N. Macedonia Nikola Dimitrov visited counterpart Slovenian FM Anže Logar in Ljubljana yesterday. He brought the same message he said in Berlin this week – the region will lose faith in the EU if accession is not opened and a real perspective for the Western Balkans.

N. MACEDONIA DIVERSIFIES: N. Macedonia signed three Memorandum of Understandings with Greek company Gastrade to diversify its energy supplies and invest in future cooperation between the two countries.

MONTENEGRO TO GET TOUGH ON ATTACKS ON JOURNALISTS: Montenegro’s Interior Minister Zoran Miljanić hopes for stricter penalties for attacks against journalists, but they must be taken case by case. He said, “The motive for the attack will be determined, but penalties for attacking journalists must also be stricter. The ministry will consider all possibilities about whether journalists should get the status of officials.”
ARRESTS DURING THE WAR PERIOD: Balkan Insight writes that Kosovo police arrested an ethnic Albanian with Serbian citizenship who allegedly participated in the Izbica Massacre. Serb forces killed 147 ethnic Albanians in the massacre. Meanwhile AP News reports that U.S. police arrested Bosnian fugitive Dževad Pajazetović on March 1 outside of Des Moines, Iowa after fleeing the Bosnia in 1996. He was convicted in 1999 and sentenced to 15 years imprisonment for the murder of a Bosnian military police officer after he refused to allow Pajazetović, a military member responsible for the Bosnia-Croatia border, to illegally smuggle fuel into Bosnia from Croatia.
WORLD CUP QUALIFiERS:
  • N. Macedonia gave Germany its third defeat ever during World Cup Qualifiers with a 2-1 win. In a highly political match,
  • Kosovo lost to Spain 3-1. The match in Spain did not feature flags for the national anthem. Spain’s national TV station referred to the Kosovo National Team as “players from the Football Federation of Kosovo” and even refused to put Kosovo’s abbreviation, KOS, in upper case in the scoreline.
  • Bosnia lost 1-0 to France, the winners of the last World Cup, France.
  • Albania topped Faroe Islands 2-0.
IN OTHER NEWS

OP-ED: “Three Decades On, War’s Legacy Still Overshadows Croatia” by Ivana Polić in Balkan InsightOP-ED: “Highway to Hell: It’s Time Bosnia Rethought Corridor Vc” by Fidanka Bacheva McGrath in Balkan Insight

ANALYSIS: “US Concerned About Continuing Rights Violations in South-East Europe” by BIRN on the U.S. State Department DRL Human Rights Report

HUMAN INTEREST: “Success Story: With the Help of the EU, Mate owns the most modern Cattle Farm in Bosnia” in The Sarajevo Times