WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN THE BALKANS TODAY

SULLIVAN + PLENKOVIĆ: U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan spoke with Croatian PM Andrej Plenković yesterday about COVID-19, energy diversification, and the Western Balkans.
  • The White House wrote in a press statement, “Mr. Sullivan expressed the Biden Administration’s appreciation for the strong U.S.-Croatia relationship and commitment to strengthening transatlantic ties. Mr. Sullivan congratulated the Prime Minister on Croatia’s recent inauguration of its KrK Island liquefied natural gas terminal and its progress on meeting the requirements to join the U.S. Visa Waiver Program.”
OSMANI ON FUTURE OF KOSOVO: New President of Kosovo Vjosa Osmani took to Twitter to address colleagues and citizens of Kosovo on her priorities and vision for Kosovo. Osmani became the seventh president and second woman to hold the post after a vote in parliament on Sunday.
  • She wrote, “Dear beloved citizens of the Republic of Kosova 🇽🇰, I am humbled and eternally grateful for the faith you have placed in me to lead the country for the next 5 years. It is the honour of my life to be able to serve you and our Republic as your newly elected President.”
  • “I’d like to thank the MPs [from across the political spectrum] for their support in the process of the establishment of our institutions. I pledge to work with all of you towards building a political culture of cooperation & tolerance for the good of our country.”
  • “Alongside our coalition partners, we ran on a platform of strengthening our justice system and enhancing the well-being of our citizens. The people of Kosovo made their choice – their voice was heard loud and clear at the ballot box – but now the real work begins.”
  • As your President, I pledge that I will work every day to further strengthen the statehood of our young Republic, bolster the rule of law and our security forces, and to work to guarantee a dignified life for all in Kosova.”
  • My love for the Republic of Kosova – our country and our people – has always been the greatest motivation in every step of my political life and will continue to be my guide in the years ahead. With love, Vjosa Osmani”
LEPOSAVIĆ OUT: Montenegro’s PM Zdravko Krivokapić has called for parliament to dismiss Minister of Justice, Human and Minority Rights Vladimir Leposavić over his comments on recognizing the Srebrenica Genocide.
  • Leposavić last week controversially said, “I am ready to admit that the crime of genocide was committed in Srebrenica when it is unequivocally established.”
  • Shortly after the comments condemned, Leposavić released a statement saying his words were taken out of context and he recognized the parliament’s the parliament’s adoption of a declaration accepting a European Parliament resolution on Srebrenica.
  • The prime minister underscored this is not the behavior of a minister. “Since Leposavić has remained in his position, I made the difficult decision to launch a proposal for his dismissal. It is inadmissible for the minister of justice to state his private views,” said Krivokapić.

SARAJEVO MARKS START OF SIEGE: City representatives of Sarajevo including Mayor Abdullah Skaka laid a wreath at the spot where the first two victims of the Siege of Sarajevo, Suada Dilberović and Olga Sučić, were killed to commemorate the 29th anniversary of the beginning of the siege. The city was under siege from April 5, 1992 to February 29, 1996. There were around 12,000 casualties and 50,000 wounded.

SPEAKING OF SARAJEVO… The Social Democratic Party (SDP) announced Benjamina Karić as its new candidate for Mayor of Sarajevo after Bogić Bogićević withdrew his name for the post. Karić has been the VP of the SDP since 2019.

TRILATERAL FM MEETING – CYPRUS, GREECE, SERBIA: Cypriot FM Nikos Christodoulides and Greek FM Nikos Denidas travelled to Belgrade for a trilateral meeting with Serbian counterpart Nikola Selaković. The interlocutors discussed “ways to enhance mutual cooperation and trilateral relations based on strong historical ties.” A key conclusion of the talks was that they agreed to meet every six months to exchange views on current affairs.

Christodoulides’ stops in Belgrade: The Cypriot FM also met with Minister of Youth and Sports Vanja Udovičić, President Aleksandar Vučić, Speaker of Parliament Ivica Dačić, and Minister of European Integration Jadranka Joksimović.

Denidas’ visit to Belgrade: While on the trip, the Greek FM met with President Aleksandar Vučić, Speaker of Parliament Ivica Dačić, and Patriarch Porfirije.

SERBIA TO PRODUCE SPUTNIK V: Serbia’s Torlak Institute of Virology, Vaccines and Sera signed a contract with the Russian Fund for Direct Investments and the Generium pharmaceutical company to transfer technology in order for Serbia to begin producing the Sputnik V vaccine. Minister without a portfolio Nenad Popović said production should start by May 20.

UN CONDEMNS CROATIA’S PRACTICES AGAINST MIGRANTS: The United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina yesterday condemned the violent pushbacks of around 50 migrants by the Croatian Police on April 2.
  • “The men described that while crossing the border, they have been deprived of their belongings, including their mobile phones and money, and been beaten with wooden sticks while forcibly returned to the territory of Bosnia,” wrote the UN.
  • The UN continued, “In violation of the prohibition of collective expulsion, pushbacks of migrants exiting Bosnia and Herzegovina have been regularly reported, including of families with children.”
  • And concluded, “We urge the concerned states [Croatia and Bosnia] to investigate the incident that took place on the 2nd of April and for all perpetrators to be appropriately sanctioned.”

BH GAS FILES CRIMINAL CHARGES: “Bosnia’s state gas company, BH Gas, said it submitted a criminal complaint against the importer of Russian gas for unilaterally changing the route to the new Turkish stream, accusing the company of letting neighbouring Serbia be in complete control of Bosnia’s gas supply.”BH Gas said in a statement on Monday that the importer, Sarajevo company Energoinvest, has enabled Transportgas Srbija and Gas Promet Pale from the country’s Republika Srpska (RS) entity to control the supply for the country’s Federation (FBiH) entity as of April 1.” (N1)

IN OTHER NEWS

OP-ED: How Serbia’s Coronavirus Vaccines are Resetting Balkan Animosities by Harun Karčić in The National InterestANALYSISPolitics Still Sways Public Sector Hiring in Kosovo by Valon Fana and Xhorxhina Bami in Balkan Insight

ANALYSIS‘Political antisemitism’ in North Macedonia? by Ethan Bergmann in European Jewish Press

CULTURE: Cultisan’s Mission to Promote the Best of Europe’s Small Producers Starts by JL Flanner in Total Slovenia News