WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN THE BALKANS TODAY

Balkan Insider is proud to invite you to our Diaspora Fireside Chat webinar series featuring one-on-one conversations with the President of the Serbian American Leaders Conference Aleksandar Djuricic, President of the National Federation of Croatian Americans Cultural Foundation Steve Rukavina, President of the United Macedonian Diaspora Meto Koloski, and President of the Advisory Council for Bosnia and Herzegovina Ajla Delkic. For dates, times, and registration, click here. 

CORONAVIRUS – BiH: The World Bank approved $36 million in funding for Bosnia and Herzegovina to combat COVID-19. The City of Sarajevo has sent aid to various cities in Italy. The Clinical Center of the University of Sarajevo received 10 ECGs financed by Norway and procured by the UN Development Program. Austria agreed to take three patients with the most severe cases of COVID-19 to Austria for treatment. By the numbers: 1,516 confirmed cases, 59 deaths

CORONAVIRUS – CROATIA: Sixty-eight tons of aid arrived in Croatia from Shanghai. Croatia announced it is sending humanitarian aid to Bosnia and Herzegovina after a phone call between Bosnia’s FM Bisera Turkovic and Croatia’s FM Gordan Grlic Radman. By the numbers: 2,030 confirmed cases, 55deaths

CORONAVIRUS – KOSOVO: The Government of Kosovo donated 500,000 euro to Albanian-majortity municipalities in Serbia including Bujanovac, Medvedja, and the Presevo Valley. By the numbers: 763 confirmed cases, 21 deaths

CORONAVIRUS – N. MACEDONIA: Twelve ventilator machines and 5000 protective face masks arrived in Skopje as a part of the EU’s 4 billion euro aid package. By the numbers: 1,386 confirmed cases, 61 deaths

CORONAVIRUS – MONTENEGRO: Montenegro’s PM Dusko Markovic said, “The state budget belongs to every citizen, and the Government is ready to bear the burden and responsibility of this complex and demanding moment.” By the numbers: 321 confirmed cases, 7 deaths.

CORONAVIRUS – SERBIA: Serbia sent four planes of medical equipment to Italy. Meanwhile, the Serbia received aid from the Russian-Serbian Humanitarian Center. By the numbers: 8,042 confirmed cases, 156 deaths

CORONAVIRUS – SLOVENIA: By the numbers: 1,396 confirmed cases, 82 deaths

***ALL STATISTICS ARE AS OF 8:00PM EST ON SUNDAY, APRIL 26,2020***
RAMADAN: Balkan Insider would like to happy beginning to Ramadan (April 23) to all Muslims across the world, and especially in the U.S. and Southeastern Europe.HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Happy birthday to Slovenia’s very own, Melania Trump. The First Lady of the U.S. turned 50 yesterday. Trump was born in Novo Mesto and grew up in Sevnica and was known by the Slovneian spelling of her name, and maiden name,  Melanija Knavs.

JASENOVAC COMMEMORATIONS: Foreign ambassadors, including U.S. Ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina Eric Nelson, EU Ambassador Johann Sattler, and Principal Deputy High Representative Michael Scanlan of the Office of the High Representative, went to Donja Gradina to pay respect to all victims of Jasenovac camp. Bosnian Serb Member of the Presidency Milorad Dodik said, “We come to Donja Gradina to pledge to permanent peace. We don’t come here to pledge to new conflicts and wars, but to peace. I trust in the awareness of the nations in the region towards preserving of precious peace” at a commemoration event.

W. BALKANS SUMMIT: The Western Balkans Summit organized by Croatia at the end of its EU Presidency will take place online on May 6.

KOSOVO @UNSC: The UN Security Council (UNSC) on Thursday discussed the UN Interim Administrative Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK). The head of UNMIK Zahir Tanin addressed the UNSC and emphasized the need to focus on handling the COVID-19 pandemic. Tanin said, “It is an unfortunate feature of the present circumstances in Kosovo that political divisions have distracted the attention of many leaders away from the health crisis. These divisions have served to reduce public trust in political leadership during a time of heightened public anxiety and uncertainty.” Acting Kosovo FM Glauk Konjufca highlighted Serbia’s nonrecognition of Kosovo, its ongoing derecognition campaign, and missing people. Serbian FM Ivica Dacic pointed out that he does not believe Kosovo is ready to get back to the negotiating table and its donation to Kosovo to combat COVID-19.

THACI GIVES LDK MANDATE: President of Kosovo Hashim Thaci on Thursday asked the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK), the former junior partner in the ruling Vetvendosje-LDK coalition, to form a government. The LDK chose Avdullah Hoti for the post of Prime Minister. When asked about potenital protests, acting PM Albin Kurti said, “Citizens have never been angrier; I can’t stop them from protesting, but I can’t say that this protest was organized by us.”

KURTI SACKS ADVISOR: Meanwhile, acting PM Albin Kurti sacked one of his advisors, Shkelzen Gashi, for criticizing the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA). Gashi noted, “I have said several times that individuals, including those in the senior hierarchy of the KLA, committed war crimes,” and added, “I think the perpetrators must be punished,” which caused backlash from Kosovo’s politicians.

PAKISTAN + BiH TERRORISM: “Pakistan’s Ambassador (to BiH) refused to cooperate with Bosnia and have their authorities check the fingerprints of illegal migrants in the country, even though Bosnia already uncovered two terrorists among the migrants based on their fingerprints, Security Minister Fahrudin Radoncic said Friday. Radoncic’s statement came after Bosnia’s Bosniak Presidency member Sefik Dzaferovic and Foreign Minister Bisera Turkovic met with Ambassador Muhammad Khalid Rao. Dzaferovic criticised Radoncic’s Wednesday statement in which he said the Ambassador of Pakistan could be declared persona non grata unless he cooperates with Bosnian authorities.” (N1)

ROYAL DONATION: The U.K’s Prince Charles has made a donation to Croatia to help the country rebuild in the aftermath of the March 22nd earthquake.

CONGRATS: Croatian jurist Ksenija Turkovic was elected as the Vice President of the European Court of Human Rights.

WHO + N. Macedonia: The World Health Organization (WHO) praised N. Macedonia for amending a law to increase the time of physical activity in the school system. The WHO met with representatives of N. Macedonia in February 2019 to “identify concrete steps to promote physical activity nationwide.”

IN OTHER NEWS
OP-ED: “Kosovo has always enjoyed bipartisan support in the United States” by Ambassador of Kosovo to the U.S. Vlora Citaku in The Washington TimesOP-ED: “Trump’s Political Survival Will Shape the Western Balkans” by Marko Savkovic in BIRN

OP-ED: “Why Serbian Media Scorned a Peace Message from Srebrenica” by Marija Ristic and Sofija Todorovic in BIRN

OP-ED: “This America is no friend to Kosovo” by Hana Marku in Prishtina Insight

OP-ED: “Russia in Review: The Kremlin Faces Setbacks in the Balkans” by George Barros in The Institute for the Study of War

ANALYSIS: “NATO Has a New Weak Link for Russia to Exploit” by Ivana Strander and Max Frost in Foreign Policy

HUMAN INTEREST: “Hardworking food cart vendor Lui adapts to world with coronavirus” by Ken Gordon in The Columbus Dispatch: “Owner of an iconic Downtown food cart moves to German Village grocery store, where he continues to serve up sandwiches and stories. The venue is different, but the sight, sound and smell of Fast Food Lui’s Concessions remain reassuringly the same. There’s the yellow signs atop his cart. The aroma of grilled onions. The burly, jovial man in his fur-lined cap who serves up delightfully sloppy sandwiches — along with healthy sides of stories and philosophy — in his sing-song Macedonian accent.”

CULTURE: “A Centuries-Old Villa in Montenegro That Hasn’t Been on the Market Since World War II” in Mansion Global (for a mere $10.76 million)

CULTURE: “April 24 in Slovenian History: Croatian-Slovene Peasant Revolt Begins” by Neza Lostrek in Total Slovenia News

SPORT: “Josip Ilicic, the Prince of Slovenia, is Serie A’s Player of the Year” by James Horncastle in The Athletic

SPORT: “Bosnia junior swimming champion makes do with tiny pool in greenhouse” by Dado Ruvic in Reuters

ENTERTAINMENT: “Finished with Netflix? Try Cinesquare, a showcase of Balkan cinema” by Nikola Djordjevic in Emerging Europe

ENTERTAINMENT: “Everything We Know About Dua Lipa’s Rise To Fame” by Audrey Grayson in The Things