WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN THE BALKANS TODAY

SLOVENIA’S NON-PAPER BOMBSHELL: Slovenian news outlet necenzurirano leaked the alleged Slovenian non-paper that would redraw the borders in the Western Balkans along ethnic lines. According to the document, it aims to tackle the “unresolved national issues of Serbs, Albanians and Croatians.”
The document proposes the following:
  • The unification of Kosovo and Albania with Serb dominated areas granted special status along the South Tyrol model.
  • Bosnia’s Republika Srpska entity join Serbia.
  • The options of predominantly Croatian cantons joining Croatia or being granted special status similar to South Tyrol.
Reactions across the board:
  • The EU Delegation/EU Special Representative, EU Heads of Mission in BiH, and EUFOR Commander released a statement saying it is “unequivocally committed to the sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina.” It added “this is our firm and unchanged position.” The statement called on BiH to accelerate the 14 key priorities of the European Commission in order to advance on the EU path.
  • The Members of Bosnia’s tripartite presidency failed to reach a consensus on the contents of the non-paper.
  • Bosniak Member of the Presidency Šefik Džaferović highlighted the paper is “leading BiH and the entire region toward a war.” He continued, “We will not allow the territorial integrity, independence and sovereignty of BiH to be attacked at any price. Everyone must be aware of that. Everyone who does that is dragging BiH, the region and Europe into war. That, I think, does not suit anyone.”
  • Bosnian Croat Member of the Presidency Željko Komšić said the paper is motivated by “anti-Islamism and anti-Semitism.” He added, “We can no longer talk about a moderate Christian right, we are now facing something that is terribly reminiscent of the World War II period.”
  • Chairman and Bosnian Serb Member of the Presidency Milorad Dodik argued peaceful separation should be on the table. He said, “So a peaceful breakup should be put as one of the options that should be one of the more important things to be discussed. And whether it will be peaceful or something violent does not depend on us, but rather on big powers.”
  • At the end of his two day visit to BiH, Croatia’s FM Gordan Grlić Radman underscored that “The entire EU and all of its member states respect international law, just like Croatia, which means the territorial integrity and sovereignty of BiH as a state,” but called for changed to electoral law.
  • Meanwhile, Bosnia’s FM Bisera Turković highlighted it would open Pandora’s box in the region and sees the situation from the angle that there is “malignant propaganda and sort of a hybrid war against Euro-Atlantic integration of BiH and citizens.”
On a lighter note, the Members of the Presidency of BiH met with a delegation from Russia’s Republic of Tatarstand. The delegation was led by President Rustam Minnikhanov. The goal is to increase industrial cooperation between the Russian republic and Bosnia.
VUČIĆ MEETS QUINT REPS., EU DELEGATION: Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić yesterday met with the QUINT representatives (France, Germany, Italy, UK, and U.S.) and the Head of the Delegation of the EU in Belgrade. Vučić tweeted that it was a “good conversation” and “A visit to Brussels will soon follow, where we will discuss regional issues & our progress on the European path. I am confident that in the coming period, Serbia can move faster towards the EU.”
RAMA’S OFFER FOR GRAND COALITION DENIED: Albanian PM Edi Rama (Socialist Party) proposed to form a grand coalition with the main opposition party, the Democratic Party (PD), ahead of the April 25 parliamentary elections but the latter refused. Rama offered the coalition to PD leader Lulzim Basha if he parted with the Socialist Movement for Integration (LSI), the party created by President Ilir Meta, and former PD leader Sali Berisha.
  • Rama said, “I am ready to cooperate with the opposition after April 25, and with Basha also, but with the simple condition that he parts from Meta and Berisha. This is to transform the political life that has indeed become stressful for Albanians.”
  • Basha rebuked that Albanians want to remove Rama from power “and he will never be part of our government.”
  • “Lulzim, why are Sali and Ilir more important to you than Albania? Albanians want unity, they want us all to work for them and their economy, beyond the pandemic, leaving behind the old political strife, division, conflict to the point of absurdity! Why is it that you don’t want this?” replied the Albanian PM.

April 25 election spending: Facebook published figures that the ruling Socialist Party and opposition Democratic Party have spent on sponsored ads. The Socialist Party spent $21,907 on 394 ads while the Democratic Party spent $11,536 on 81 ads. BIRN reports that a total of $113,252 has been spent “by parties, candidates or sites that distribute political ads.”

SLOVENIA’S PAHOR IN ITALY: Slovenian President Borut Pahor met with Italian counterpart Sergio Mattarella on an official visit. The countries announced a visit to Nova Gorica and Gorizia together in the context of “two Gorizia and one city.”

DIMITROV IN VIENNA: Deputy PM for European Affairs of N. Macedonia Nikola Dimitrov yesterday met with Austrian FM Alexander Schallenberg and Minister of the EU and the Constitution Karoline Edtstadler. They discussed key bilateral issues and the Covid crisis. Edtstadler called on Bulgaria to stop blocking N. Macedonia’s EU accession talks.

KOSOVO TO SUE SERBIA: Kosovo’s President Vjosa Osmani announced the country will sue Serbia for genocide. Speaker of the Assembly Glauk Konjufca said, “The address of all crimes committed in Kosovo is Serbia, but there is still no justice for war crimes and Serbian genocide. It is our institutional and state obligation to bring justice. There can be no peace and reconciliation without justice.”

EC SPOKESWOMAN RECEIVES LETTER FROM MONTENEGRO: European Commission (EC) Spokeswoman Ana Pisonero told Radio Free Europe that “We have received the letter, and we’re preparing an answer.” Montenegro recently urged the EU to help Montenegro repay a $1bn loan from China to build the Bor-Boljare road. Lead spokesman for external affairs of the EU Peter Stano on Monday said the EU would not help Montenegro repay the loan.

SPUTNIK V PRODUCTION IN SERBIA: Russian state-owned news outlet TASS writes that production of the Sputnik V vaccine is underway in Serbia. It is the first country in southern Europe to produce the vaccine and can be distributed to other countries.

PALESTINE WANTS OIC TO CUT TIES WITH KOSOVO: The Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates called on the Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC) to cut ties with Kosovo after Pristina established diplomatic ties with Israel and opened an embassy in Jerusalem. Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki wrote the request to Secretary-General of the OIC Dr. Yousef bin Ahmed Al-Othaimeen.
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