WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN THE BALKANS TODAY

KURTI, VUČIĆ TO SEPARATELY MEET EU OFFICIALS NEXT WEEK: Kosovo PM Albin Kurti and Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić will separately meet EU officials in Brussels next week.

  • Serbia’s Vučić said he expects a “constructive conversation, important and constructive talks for Serbia” with EU High Representative Josep Borrell, EU Commission President Ursala von der Leyen, Commissioner for Neighborhood and Enlargement Olivér Várhelyi and EUSR for the Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue Miroslav Lajčák.
  • Kurti’s office has not released his schedule for the trip yet.
  • There is no planned meeting between Vučić and Kurti, but Vučić expects that the Dialogue will continue in May or June.

MAAS IN KOSOVO AND SERBIA?: Kosovo media reports that German FM Heiko Maas will be on a visit to Pristina today followed by Belgrade on Friday. No planned schedule has been released.

TENSE ATMOSPHERE AHEAD OF ALBANIAN ELECTIONS: On the heels of a shooting at the opposition party office in Kavaja that left one person injured, a shooting in Elbasan happened yesterday that left one dead and four injured.

  • According to AP News, “Local media reported that the victim and one of the injured people worked at the governing Socialist Party’s local office while the alleged attacker is a bodyguard of a center-right main opposition Democratic Party politician. Another two of the injured were allegedly bodyguards for the same Democratic Party politician.”
  • President Ilir Meta in an interview with AP News slammed the ruling Socialist Party and its leader and PM Edi Rama. Meta charged that the government is running a “kleptocratic regime” and vowed to resign if the Socialists win the elections “in a democratic way” on Sunday.

NON-PAPER FALLOUT CONTINUES: Fallout from Sloevnia’s non-paper that called for the redrawing of the borders of the Western Balkans along ethnic lines continued yesterday – this time from the U.S. Embassy and Bosnia’s FM.

  • The U.S. Embassy in Sarajevo told N1 in a strongly worded statement on Bosnia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty that “it is not opinions that matter, but the facts and international law. The territorial integrity and sovereignty of BiH are guaranteed by the Dayton Peace Agreement. Any action aimed at dismantling BiH is a violation of the Dayton Peace Agreement. Neither entity has a future outside of BiH.”
  • Bosnia’s FM Bisera Turković called on diplomatic missions to promote the Bosnia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.
  • Turković wrote, “Promoting the idea of changing the borders of BiH is contrary to democratic principles, human rights, relevant decisions and attitudes of the European Union institutions. Questioning the territorial integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina is the most serious violation not only of the Constitution of BiH but also of its international legal status and position.”
  • Earlier this week Chairman Bosnian Serb Member of the Presidency Milorad Dodik openly called for a “peaceful separation” of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
  • Not so fast – The Association of Generals of BiH yesterday said “The division of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) is not possible, and will never be.”

CROATIA + ITALY + SLOVENIA: The FMs of Croatia, Italy, and Slovenia met in the Slovenian city of Brdo pri Kranju to sign a joint statement on cooperation on ecological protection and sustainable development in the northern Adriatic ports. The trio looks to intensify cooperation in transport connections and intermodal transport, as well.

TURKEY + ALBANIA: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan appeared via teleconference at the opening of the Turkey-Albania Fier Friendship Hospital. Erdoğan said from Ankara, “We work for peace, tranquility, stability and development of the Balkans, especially Albania.” Erdoğan highlighted that Turkey built the $84 million hospital in three months.

OPPOSITION UNITED ON CROATIAN HEALTH MINISTERS: The opposition parties are united on their plan to call a vote of no confidence for Health Minister Vili Beroš. The opposition accuses him of mishandling the Covid-19 pandemic and corruption. But on Tuesday PM Andrej Plenković said that any attempt to remove Beroš would end in defeat.

MONTENEGRO + BiH: “Deputy Foreign Minister of Bosnia and Herzegovina Josip Brkic and State Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration of Montenegro Ljubomir Misurovic led the delegations of ministries at bilateral consultations on NATO issues, held today in Sarajevo.”The consultations focused on the strengthening of cooperation with neighbors and within the region while promoting dialogue aimed at resolving outstanding issues.

“The delegations exchanged views on Montenegro’s experiences in the field of Euro-Atlantic integration, and cooperation within the US-Adriatic Charter (A5) and best practices in the use of instruments and mechanisms of cooperation with NATO.” (The Sarajevo Times)

SERBIA PASSES ENERGY LAWS: “The National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia has adopted two new laws – the law on renewable energy sources and the law on energy efficiency and rational use of energy, as well as amendments to two laws – the law on energy and the law on mining and geological research.

“The renewable energy sources law, adopted by the Serbian government at the end of March, is seen as the enabler of large investments in the construction of solar power plants and wind farms, which will accelerate the decarbonization of Serbia’s energy sector and increase the share of renewable sources in energy consumption. Investors are already showing great interest in both wind and solar.” (Balkan Green Energy News)

ONLINE CONTENT IN KOSOVO: “Proposals to regulate ‘toxic’ online media content by law have drawn concern from the Press Council of Kosovo and the Association of Journalists of Kosovo, which have described the initiative as ‘harmful’.

The Press Council of Kosovo, PCK, and the Association of Journalists of Kosovo, AJK, voiced concern on Wednesday over the proposed regulation of online media content under the Law on the Independent Media Commission, IMC, describing it as a violation of “international rules of journalism.'” (Prishtina Insight)

CRIME: “Montenegro’s police have arrested an alleged boss of a criminal gang which has spread fear and bloodshed in the Balkans and across Europe, officials said Wednesday.

“Deputy Prime Minister Dritan Abazovic hailed the arrest of Slobodan Kascelan in the Montenegrin seaside town of Kotor late Tuesday as the greatest success of the tiny country’s police force in the past 10 years.” (AP News)


IN OTHER NEWS

OP-EDDisputed Non-Paper is Stirring Dangerous Dreams in the Balkans by Srečko Latal in Balkan InsightIN PHOTOSThe perils of air pollution in North Macedonia by Stefano Morelli in Al Jazeera

CULTURETwo-Headed Calf Born in Macedonia in NBC New York

CULTURECroatian island of Pag included on list of 9 best cheese destinations in Europe in Croatia Week

CULTURERakija Is Probably the Most Rock & Roll Spirit You’ve Never Had by Kevin Gray in Urban Daddy

TRAVELPlitvice Lakes Offers to Arrive for Visitors in May! by Jose Alfonso Cussianovich in Total Croatia News