WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN THE BALKANS TODAY

CORONAVIRUS by the numbers:

  • BiH: 9,115 confirmed cases,  4,159 recov ered, 268 deaths.
  • CROATIA: 4,530 confirmed cases, 3,278 recovered, 128 deaths.
  • KOSOVO: 6,286 confirmed cases, 3,369 recovered, 150 deaths.
  • N. MACEDONIA: 9,547 confirmed cases, 442 deaths.
  • MONTENEGRO: 2,381 confirmed cases, 35 deaths.
  • SERBIA: 22,031 confirmed cases, 16,913 recovered, 499 deaths.
  • SLOVENIA: 2,006 confirmed cases, 115 deaths.

BELGRADE NATO WEEK: At the eighth Belgrade NATO week, FM Ivica Dacic stood steadfast on Serbia’s military neutrality. He said, “I would like to note again that Serbia’s policy of military neutrality is not questioned for a moment, it remains our fundamental and well-known position, which NATO, its members and partners, as well as other countries, fully respect. Since we respect the choice of our neighbors and other states in favor of membership in NATO or other military alliances, we look forward to understanding and our cooperation with non-NATO countries, which does not harm our relations with NATO and its members, and vice versa.” But Serbian citizens are not in favor joining the Alliance – only 9% of Serbs want to join NATO.

VULIN WARNS GERMANY: Meanwhile, Serbia’s Defense Minister Aleksandar Vulin yesterday warned Germany on arming Kosovo. The Ministry of Defense writes, “Arming the military which, according to Resolution 1244 must not exist, is a violation of international law, trampling on German law, but it is also a message to Serbia,” said the Minister of Defence, Aleksandar Vulin, today, reacting to media reports stating that Angela Merkel has given green light for the Germans to arm the so-called Kosovo.” The Ministry of Defense adds that Vulin said that “to give weapons to Shiptar terrorists whose leaders have been indicted for war crimes in the Hague, and to hope for peace and stability in the region is either hypocrisy or madness.” And concluded “When Germany shows military power, the whole world should be concerned about its future. History is repeating itself.”

BiH’s EU PATH: The EU welcomed Bosnia’s EU progress by adopting the Rules of Procedure of the Stabilization and Association Parliamentary Committee. It wrote in a statement, “After five years of stalemate, the functioning of the Stabilisation and Association Parliamentary Committee is now unblocked. It paves the way for the delegates of the Parliamentary Assembly of BiH and the European Parliament Members to cooperate in this joint body and strengthen political dialogue at parliamentary level.”

CROATIA’S GOV’T SWORN IN: Croatia’s tenth parliamentary assembly was sworn in with Speaker Gordan Jandronkovic retaining his post.

KOSOVO SPECIALIST CHAMBERS: The KSC is expected to bring first indictments before August. The pre-trial judges has six months to review a case and decide whether to bring an indictment. Meanwhile, leader of DUI in N. Macedonia, Ali Ahmeti, has been summoned as a witness by the KSC.

VMRO-DPMNE SHAKEUP: The main opposition party in N. Macedonia, VMRO-DPMNE, announced changes to its structure. The president of the party will be limited to three terms and it removed fugitive former PM Nikola Gruevski as honorary president of the party. Meanwhile, MP Daniela Rangova called for current party president, Hristijan Mickoski to resign after the parliamentary results.

SPEAKING OF N. MACEDONIA: Minister of Economy Kreshnik Bekteshi has tested positive for Covid-19.

HUNGARY + SLOVENIA: “Central Europe’s competitiveness hinges on intensifying inter-state transport and energy connections, Péter Szijjártó, the foreign affairs and trade minister, said on Wednesday after meeting Slovenian infrastructure minister Jernej Vrtovec. Szijjártó underlined the importance of connecting Hungary and Slovenia‘s electricity and gas pipelines and increasing the number of border crossings. At a joint press conference, Szijjártó noted that the countries’ electricity networks will be connected by the end of next year, with high-voltage networks operating between Héviz and Zirkovce.” (Hungary Today)

ELECTIONS IN MONTENEGRO: The OSCE/ODIHR announced it will send a team of 100 international observers for Montenegro’s parliamentary elections on August 30.

KOSOVO MARKS DECADE SINCE ICJ OPINION: Kosovo marked ten years since the International Court of Justice gave its opinion that Kosovo’s declaration of independence was legal under international law. Speaker of Parliament Vjosa Osomani wrote on Twitter, “It was an honor to be part of the team that represented (Kosovo) in this landmark case that gave an answer to all those who had questions as to the legality of this act of the will of the people.”

INT’L SUPPORT FOR JUDICIAL VETTING: The Embassy of the U.S., Great Britain, Germany and Italy, and the EU Office in Kosovo, and OSCE will support the Ministry of Justice in vetting potential judges, according to Minister of Justice Selim Selimi.

IRANIAN EXPELLED IN ALBANIA: An Iranian holding an Italian passport was expelled from Albania and banned for 15 years. He was suspected of working for the Iranian regime. He joins four diplomats, including an ambassador, that have been expelled since December 2018.

TO THE SLAMMER: Bosnia and Herzegovina inaugurated a state penitentiary for convicted war criminals and organized crime enablers.

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