WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN THE BALKANS TODAY

KURTI ON VISIT TO FRANCE: Kosovo PM Albin Kurti on Sunday met with French President Emmanuel Macron’s political advisor for the Balkans Isabelle Dumont, French Ambassador Marie-Christine-Butel, and Adviser in the Directorate of Continental Europe at the French Foreign Ministry.
  • They discussed Kurti’s visit to Paris next week. He will meet with France’s Macron to discuss political developments in Kosovo, the region, and the world; European integration; and bilateral relations.

KONJUFCA ON OFFICIAL VISIT TO GERMANY: Kosovo’s Speaker of Parliament is on an official visit to Germany. He yesterday met with German counterpart Wolfgang Schäube and discussed bilateral relations, economic and social development, visa liberalization, and the Kosovo-Serbia Dialogue.

ITALIAN FM IN KOSOVO: Italian FM Luigi Di Maio today is visiting
Kosovo where will address Parliament.

FACING THE PAST: There has been much talk over the past week after Montenegro’s Minister of Justice, Human, and Minority Rights was sacked for denying the Srebrenica Genocide and Montenegro’s Parliament passing a resolution on Srebrenica. The move was criticized by Serb leaders like Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vučić and Chairman and Bosnian Serb Member of the Presidency Milorad Dodik.

  • Yesterday, the leader of Bosnia’s Party of Democratic Action (SDA) Bakir Izetbegović praised the resolution and criticized Serbia’s Vučić.
  • He said adopting the resolution “a big step towards accepting the truth about the events of the 1990s.”
  • But he noted that the reactions from Serbia “show that there is still no readiness on that side for that kind of confrontation with the truth.”
  • He said that he does not expect Serbia under Vučić’s leadership will not confront the past.
  • Serbia’s FM Nikola Selaković groaned about “Podgorica’s lecture’s” in a “hypocritical and cynical tone” for passing the resolution.
  • A statement from Montenegro’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs wondered how Serbian leaders could have such a strong reaction as a neighbor and prospect for European integration.
  • It said, “Those statements are hard to understand coming from leaders advocating good neighbor relations, closest cooperation in the region and its European future.”
  • Meanwhile, the head of the Serbian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Porfirije, warned that “what happened in Montenegro” is polarizing and will only separate people, rather than bring them together.
  • Read more: Serbia and Montenegro clash over 1995 Srebrenica massacre in AP News
SERBIA TO SANCTION BELARUS: Serbia joins the EU, Albania, Montenegro, and N. Macedonia in sanctions against Belarus according to the Council of Europe. The sanctions include a ban over airspace and access to airports for Belarusian operators. Serbia also backed the EU declaration on Belarusian elections in August 2020 calling he sanctions neither free nor fair.
  • Serbia has traditionally had warm relations with Belarus and the Lukashenko regime which has been in power since 1994. Lukashenko last visited Serbia in December 2019. Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vučić is warm with the Belarusian leader and  has described him as “a sincere friend in Serbia.”
  • Highlighting the closeness of their relationship – this past week Belarus, Russia, and Serbia have participated in annual trilateral military drills dubbed Slavic Brotherhood since 2015.
  • Nevertheless, Serbia refuses to join EU sanctions against Russia.
SPEAKING OF RUSSIA… Serbia’s Defense Minister Nebojša Stefanović arrived in Russia for the 9th Moscow Conference on International Security from June 22 to 24 at the invitation of Russian counterpart Sergei Shoigu. Stefanović will have a bilateral meeting with Russia’s Shoigu.
  • Other countries invited include Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, and Slovenia. The defense ministries of these countries do not have information about the conference.
  • See the full program HERE.

MONTENEGRIN OPPOSITION CALLS FOR RESIGNATIONS: The Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS), the biggest opposition party, has called on Interior Minister Sergej Sekulović to resign over an accident in a government vehicle involving Deputy Secretary General of the Government Nikola Kandić on May 4. Kandić has been accused of being drunk and driving through a red light by witnesses

SLOVENIAN LEADERS VOTE FOR PARTY LEADERS: The Democratic Party (SDS) and Pensioners’ Party (DeSUS) over the weekend elected leaders for their respective parties. It was not a surprise that current PM Janez Janša won another term for the SDS with 650 out of 656 votes. Meanwhile, DeSUS elected Ljubo Jasnič as its new leader. Jasnič received 54 out of 117 votes. He is a former secretary general of the party.

SERBIAN MINISTER BANNED FROM ENTERING KOSOVO: Serbia’s Sports Minister Vanja Udovičić has not been granted permission to enter Kosovo to attend a discussion on scholarships for young Serbs in Kosovo and visit Zubin Potok in the north of Kosovo.

HAPPY RETIREMENT!: We would like to wish Macedonian soccer player Goran Panev a happy retirement from the national team. He played his last international match against the Netherlands yesterday in his 122nd appearance for his country. He was presented a “Pandev 122” jersey from the Netherlands before the match.

IN OTHER NEWS

OP-ED: Balkan stability requires Serbia-Kosovo agreement by Janusz Bugajski in The Washington ExaminerANALYSIS: Populist Leaders in Eastern Europe Run Into a Little Problem: Unpopularity by Andrew Higgins in The New York Times

ANALYSIS: Serbia Doing Little to Deradicalise Foreign Fighters by Milica Stojanović in Balkan Insight

ANALYSIS: Has Montenegro’s Srebrenica Resolution ‘Stigmatised’ Serbia by Milica Stojanović in Balkan Insight