WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN THE BALKANS TODAY
KURTI’S DAY 2 IN BRUSSELS: Kosovo PM Albin Kurti on his final day in Brussels met with EU High Representative Josep Borrell, President of the European Commission Ursala von der Leyen, Enlargement Commissioner Olivér Várhelyi, and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.
- Borrell and Kurti noted that the Kosovo-Serbia Dialogue will resume in June. Borrell said that the “European path of Kosovo goes through this dialogue…Reaching an agreement on normalization of relations between Kosovo and Serbia is the only way to get the European perspective.”
- Read Borrell’s full remarks and press conference HERE.
- NATO’s Stoltenberg and Kurti met to discuss NATO’s role in Kosovo and the region. Kurti emphasized that Kosovo “is an indispensable in keeping peace & providing security and Kosovo membership in NATO makes the region & Europe much safer.”
- Read NATO’s statement on the meeting HERE.
- In an address to the European Parliaments Committee on Foreign Affairs (AFET), Kurti urged the parliamentarians to set up a vision for the Western Balkans.
- Watch his full address in the European Parliament’s AFET HERE.
JANŠA + MACRON: Slovenian PM Janez Janša yesterday was on a working visit to Paris where he met with French President Emmanuel Macron.
- They discussed ” Slovenian and French presidencies of the Council of the EU, handling the COVID-19 epidemic, strengthening political and economic cooperation between the countries, the situation in the Western Balkans and other current foreign policy issues,” according to a press statement by Janša’s office.
- Janša said, “Our main priority as the presiding state of the Council of the EU will revolve around the word resilience. We want to focus on strengthening the resilience of Europe when it comes to combating epidemics such as the COVID-19 epidemic or facing threats of cyberattacks, or any other strategic threat for that matter.”
- Slovenia also aims to “accelerate the European perspective of the Western Balkans.”
RUSSIAN EMBASSY RESPONDS TO PALMER: The Embassy of Russia in Bosnia released a statement in response to U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs and Special Representative to the Western Balkans Matthew Palmer’s interview with N1.
- The statement said, “According to Palmer – and obviously not only him – Russia is to blame for all the troubles that Bosnia and Herzegovina has. We can only comment on such conclusions using one saying by Sergey Lavrov: ‘It’s good that they don’t blame us for the murder of Franz Ferdinand.'”
EU COMMISSION HAS STA’S BACK: The European Commission approved of 2.5 million euros in compensation to the Slovenian Press Agency (STA) which has been under constant attack from PM Janez Janša. The Commission noted the payment “will enable the Slovenian Press Agency STA to continue deliver its important public service” and “fosters a service of general public interest and promotes media plurality, without unduly distorting competition”
CROATIA HAS NAT’L RECOVERY AND RESILIENCE PLAN: Croatia’s PM Andrej Plenković announced the government has adopted the draft National Recovery and Resilience Plan worth $7 billion. The plan includes two-thirds earmarked for recovery of Covid-19 and one-third for future greater resilience.
LOGAR TO TAKE ON COOPERATION WITH EP: The Slovenian government named FM Anže Logar as the high representative for cooperation with the European Parliament during Slovenia’s EU presidency.
COL. SCROCCA ON DEFENDER 21: “NATO has launched joint military exercises in Albania with thousands of military forces from the United States and other countries in the first such large-scale drills since World War II in the Western Balkans, a U.S. army official said Thursday.”Col. Joseph Scrocca said ‘a staunch NATO ally since 2009, Albania is a valued security partner — both regionally and globally.’
“Albania is playing a critical part in the DEFENDER-Europe 21 exercise with Joint Logistics Over-the-Shore operations taking place ‘for the first time in Europe since World War II at the Port of Durres,’ Scrocca said in an online briefing.” (AP News)
SLOVENIA, U.S. THWART MASS SHOOTING IN SLOVENIA: “The Kranj Police Department said on Wednesday that Slovenian and US law enforcement authorities had prevented planned mass shootings with firearms in public institutions in the north-western region of Gorenjska. The person suspected of planning to commit these acts has been detained.”After the online edition of the newspaper Večer reported that a shooting rampage had been planned in the region, the Kranj Police Department announced a press conference for the afternoon, where some more detail was revealed.” (The Slovenia Times)
OP-ED: The Balkans’ demons of ethno-nationalism by Ralf Melzer in IPS JournalBLOG: The one-sided war of dreadful non-papers continues, mine next! by Daniel Serwer in Peacefare
ANALYSIS: Vaccine diplomacy boosts Russia’s and China’s global standing in The Economist
ANALYSIS: The ‘Phantom Papers’ That No One In The Western Balkans Will Own Up To Writing by Rikard Jozwiak in RFE/RL
ANALYSIS: How Slovenia’s government seized its cultural institutions by Paula Erizanu in The Calvert Journal
ANALYSIS: How has Serbia become the European vaccines champion? With help from its friends by Thomas Harding in The National News