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WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN THE BALKANS TODAY

ALBANIAN RULING PARTY LOOKS TO IMPEACH PRESIDENT: Albania’s Socialist Party, which won a third consecutive mandate in parliamentary elections, has started a motion in parliament to impeach President Ilir Meta for allegedly violating he constitution in the elections. The Socialist Party holds 74/140 seats in parliament, but an impeachment would require 2/3 of the body to vote in favor. Meta left the Socialist Movement for Integration party, currently a member of the opposition, when he ran for president.

TSIKHANOUSKAYA IN SLOVENIA: Exiled Belarusian opposition leader Svitlatlana Tsikhanouskaya yesterday met with Slovenian FM Anže Logar ahead of Ljubljana’s EU Presidency.

  • Tsikhanouskaya emphasized after the meeting, “It is extremely important to keep Belarus high in agenda on international level with our difficult fight for democratic changes.”
  • “So, I call you to be vocal about the situation in Belarus, especially about human rights, about atrocities and tortures in our jails, because people in democratic countries can’t even imagine how people are ill-treated in our jails.” added the Belarusian leader.
  • Slovenia’s Logar noted, “We will also look for opportunities to explain to our partners and international organizations how important this fight for democratization in Belarus is.”

VUČIĆ WON’T SIGN SAME-SEX MARRIAGE LAW: Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić said he would not sign the Law on Same-Sex Unions if it came to his desk because it would be against Serbia’s Constitution.

  • In an interview with Blic, Vučić said, “The Constitution refers to the Family Law, which defines marriage as a legally regulated union of a man and a woman. Therefore, I wouldn’t be able to sign the law on same-sex unions and I would return it to the National Assembly.”

OSMANI IN GERMANY: FM of N. Macedonia Bujar Osmani yesterday in Berlin discussed, “perspectives of 🇲🇰🤝🇩🇪relations, political dialogue, economic cooperation & connectivity, as well as next steps towards enhancing ties between our countries” with German counterpart Heiko Maas.

  • Germany’s Maas emphasized, “Germany is very serious about an EU perspective for countries in the Western Balkans. This holds especially true for N. Macedonia. It has fully met the requirements for accession negotiations and is continuing its reform agenda consistently nonetheless.”
  • When asked the alleged Slovenian and German/French non-papers, FM Maas said it was “nothing but hot air” and ” It has always been the principle of German foreign policy towards the Western Balkans to not touch the borders.”
  • He denied Germany had any involvement in drafting the supposed non-paper.

Speaking of non-papers… Bosnian Chairman and Serb Member of the Presidency Milorad Dodik said Bosnia’s Republika Srpska entity has drafted a non-paper and in the future said “we will send it to everybody.”

VÁRHELYI ON KICKS OF VISIT IN SERBIA: EU Commissioner for Neighborhood and Enlargement Olivér Várhelyi kicked off a visit to the Western Balkans with a stop in Belgrade yesterday. The trip is focused on delivering Covid-19 vaccines and discussing the European perspectives for the Western Balkan countries.

  • Ahead of the trip, he noted, “I am travelling to the Western Balkans to pass a clear message: We care! We care about our partners, and we care about their health care workers and the most vulnerable. The delivery of the vaccines confirms our continuous commitment to provide support, as we have been doing since the outbreak of the pandemic. Stronger together!”
  • Today, Várhelyi will visit BiH, Montenegro, and N. Macedonia followed by Albania and Kosovo on Wednesday.

JAPANESE FM ON VISITS SLOVENIA, BiH: Japanese FM Toshimitsu Motegi on Friday met with Slovenian counterpart Anže Logar. He met with Bosnian FM Bisera Turković on Saturday.

  • In Slovenia, the talks centered on economic cooperation, particularly in the high-tech sector.
  • Japan’s Motegi Tokyo he wants to increase cooperation in cyber-security with Ljubljana.
  • In BiH, Motegi signed an agreement to approve a grant worth 3.8 million euros for Bosnia’s border security and migration management.

Meanwhile, Turkish FM Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu will meet with Slovenia’s President Borut Pahor and PM Janez Janša to discuss bilateral relations, Turkey’s EU membership, and regional developments.

SERBIAN INTERIOR MINISTER AIMS FOR GREATER SERBIA: Serbia’s Interior Minister Aleksandar Vulin took a page out of the Russkiy Mir (Russian World) playbook and called for the creation of a “Serbian World.”

  • He said that “the creation of a Serbian world solves the national question of Serbs, that it stops the spread of ‘Greater Albania’, guarantees Serbs that genocide against them will never happen again, and above all ensures long-lasting peace in the Balkan.”
  • And added, “it is not a solution for all Serbs to live together in a foreign country, but for the majority of Serbs to live in their own country.”
  • He cited Germany’s reunification as a precedent. He said, “no one was bothered by the fact that the Germans united and thus ended the revision of the results of the Second World War, but everyone is bothered that Serbs want to live in one state.”

CROATIA SUPPORTS KOSOVO ARMY: Croatia’s Defense Minister Mario Banožić on Friday met with Kosovar counterpart Armend Mehaj in Zagreb. Banožić highlighted that the talks were “an opportunity to point out the importance of (turning) Kosovo’s security forces into a regular army.” He added that “The cooperation in this process will reinforce the connections between our countries in the political, military and economic sense.”

SERBIA’S INTER-PARTY DIALOGUE: “Serbia’s Parliament Speaker Ivica Dacic confirmed on Monday the inter-party dialogue on election conditions mediated by the European Parliament (EP) would not start before June, which would be less than a year ahead of the 2022 presidential, local and early parliamentary vote.”He recalled  the recent dialogue with 26 organisations that refused to talk to the MEPs was held and denied the participants were ‘anti-European parties.'” (N1)

EP TO DISCUSS MONTENEGRO: The European Parliament’s (EP)  is set to discuss Montenegro’s progress report prepared by Rapporteur Tonino PIcula on May 18. The EP Committee on Foreign Affairs (AFET) adopted Picula’s report on April 14 which called for rule of law reforms.

MLADIĆ COURT DATE SET: The final verdict in the trial of Ratko Mladić has been set for June 8. He is charged with genocide, crimes against humanity, and violations of the laws or cusoms of war. He was sentenced in November 2017 to life imprisonment in a first-instance verdict.

KSC/SPO UPDATE: The Kosovo Special Prosecutor’s Office (SPO) found Hysni Gucati and Nasim Haradinaj guilty for obstruction of justice and unauthorized disclosure of protected information including identifying potential witnesses.

Meanwhile, the Kosovo Specialist Chamber (KSC) pre-trial judge granted former Chairman of the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) Kadri Veseli temporary release from The Hague on humanitarian grounds. Veseli was seen visiting his father in a Mitrovica hospital on Sunday.

MONTENEGRO + ENERGY: “Montenegro is preparing a new energy strategy, which will put priority on renewable energy sources in order to achieve climate neutrality, while the country’s national energy and climate plan (NECP), which is also being drafted, will set a deadline for a coal phaseout.”Prime Minister Zdravko Krivokapić said the Government of Montenegro is committed to making renewables a cornerstone of the energy sector development. Zero emissions in the energy sector by 2030, an initiative of opposition party Pokret za Promjene, is something that must be strived for, considering it is in line with the policy of the European Union.” (Balkan Green Energy News)

IN OTHER NEWS

OP-EDSlovenia’s ‘Non-Paper’ is no Stunt but a Worrying Omen by Jasmin Mujanović in Balkan InsightOP-EDSlovenia: President Borut Pahor Strengthens Ties With Albania by Peter Tase in Eurasia Review

ANALYSISMontenegro Moves to Erase Diaspora Voters From Electoral Roll by Samir Kajosević in Balkan Insight

ANALYSISUS Army Warmly Welcomed Ahead of NATO Exercises in Albania by Llazar Semini in AP News

CULTUREOn Heritage Budget, Replica ‘Stone’ Houses Commemorate Kosovo War by Serbeze Haxhiaj in Balkan Insight