WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN THE BALKANS TODAY

SUMMITS, SUMMITS SUMMITS: Leaders in the Balkans participated in three separate summits and ministerial meetings yesterday.

  • Italy and the United States chaired a ministerial meeting of the Global Coalition Against Daesh in Rome on Monday for the first meeting in person in two years. A joint communiqué highlighted that the Ministers “reaffirmed their shared determination to continue a fight against Daesh/ISIS.” The communiqué emphasized civilian protection and coordination among coalition members as keys to ensuring ISIS loses more control of territory. Montenegrin Deputy PM Dritan Abazović held a quick meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken at the meeting.
  • Speakers of the Western Balkan countries shared views on European perspectives with the European Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs in Brussels. After the Summit, European Parliament President David Sassoli emphasized “Enlargement means hope for all sides.” He added that necessary reforms must be met to join the EU.Read the joint declaration from the Summit HERE. Watch highlights from the Summit HERE.
  • Meanwhile in Poland, the Višegrad 4 (Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia) and the Western Balkans 6 Summit met in Rogalin. The V4 countries reaffirmed their support for the European perspective of the Western Balkans countries.

N. MACEDONIA’S EU PATH: PM Zoran Zaev said that a solution to the dispute over culture and identity with Bulgaria should be resolved during the Slovenian Presidency of the EU. He noted that Skopje would engage with Sofia on a political solution only if Bulgaria pledged not to veto the start of EU negotiations. Zaev added that he thinks N. Macedonia should wait until December for the next enlargement date.

SERBS CELEBRATE VIDOVDAN: Serbs in Kosovo celebrated St. Vitus Day, also known as Vidovdan, yesterday at Gazimestan. The holiday celebrates the loss at the Battle of Kosovo in 1389 against the Ottoman Empire.

  • Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot declared June 28 as Vidovdan Day in Chicago in a proclamation.
  • Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vučić yesterday said that Serbs will find out “who is faithful and who is a the betrayer” of Kosovo. Vučić was in Kruševac, where Czar Lazar took communion before the battle, to celebrate Vidovdan. He emphasized that “we must not leave conflicts to the younger generation” to our children.
  • Montenegrin PM Zdravko Krivokapić attended the Vidovdan liturgy at the Podlastva Monastery.
  • Patriarch Porfirije, the head of the Serbian Orthodox Church, visited the Gračanica Monastery on Vidovdan. He said that “The home of the Orthodox Christian Serbs is Kosovo.” He added that he sees Albanians as brothers. He noted, “I am certain that we can understand each other, live together and grow. Just as long as the people who sow discord don’t teach us peace and unity with their far away worldly interests.”

ZAKHAROVA CALLS KOSOVO “BLACK HOLE”: Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova has called Kosovo “a black hole in Europe” and noted that “the western project Kosovo has failed regardless of the huge amounts of money that was pumped into it” in an interview with media in Serbia.

  • She added, “The new Kosovo authorities, led by Albin Kurti, are preaching open political extremism. Kosovo has become a problem of the European continent.”
  • Zakharova emphasized that Serbia enters a Free Trade Agreement with the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) countries on July 10. Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan are members of the EAEU.

SPEAKING OF JULY…. According to the Washington Agreement signed by President Aleksandar Vučić in September 2020, Serbia committed to moving its Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem in July of this year. Serbia has warned Israel it would not move its embassy if Israel recognized Kosovo.

IZETBEGOVIĆ ON EU AMBITIONS: House of Peoples Speaker and leader of the SDA Bakir Izetbegović urged the EU to grant Bosnia candidate status which is a priority for Bosnia.

  • “Granting BiH candidate status this year would be a clear message and a significant incentive for institutions involved in the integration process, political decision-makers, and especially BiH citizens, who are overwhelmingly committed to the European perspective of the state,” said Izetbegović.

AMB. NELSON CALLS FOR ELECTORAL REFORM: U.S. Ambassador to BiH Eric Nelson called on Bosnia to use 2021 as an election year to push forward with electoral reforms. He noted there has been progress in the inter-agency working group on the matter.

PLENKOVIĆ ON NEXT THREE YEARS: “Croatia will realise four big projects in the next three years, the Pelješac Bridge, joining Schengen and the eurozone, and buying fighter jets, and will also use them for the necessary reforms, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Monday.

“Croatia’s road to independence was difficult, but the years ahead will not be easier if we don’t prepare for the world that is coming, he said at a conference on Croatia’s key successes, organised by Hanza Media on the occasion of Croatia’s 30 years of independence.” (Total Croatia News)

KURTI WANTS RECOGNITION + UN MEMBERSHIP: Kosovo PM Albin Kurti said that a final agreement with Serbia must include Kosovo’s membership to the United Nations and recognition.

  • “An agreement which includes Serbia’s recognition but not a seat in the United Nations or one which offers UN membership instead of recognition can not be the final agreement,” said Kurti
  • He aded, “Kosovo’s independence is the compromise that should have brought a new UN Security Council resolution but that never happened. The independence that we have is a compromise which we declared 13 years ago as a sovereign government. That independence had a mission headed by Pieter Feith with the Ahtisaari plan in force for those 13 years.”

VON DER LEYEN URGES DIALOGUE: European Commission President Ursala von der Leyen wrote a letter to PM Kurti urging the Dialogue to continue as soon as possible. In the letter she wrote, “It is essential that the next high-level meeting of the Dialogue can take place as soon as possible. This is crucial for progress in the respective European path of Kosovo and Serbia and for your citizens.”

KURTI MEETS SERBIAN OPPOSITION POLITICIAN: Kosovo’s Kurti and Vetëvendosje MP Hydajet Hyseni met with opposition leader former Serbian MP Nenad Čanak, leader of the Social Democrats of Vojvodina. They discussed strengthening democracy in the region and the Kosovo-Serbia Dialogue.

NO RESIDENCE PERMITS NEEDED: Kosovo’s Kurti confirmed that citizens of Albania are not required to obtain temporary residence permits to live and work in Kosovo.

  • Kurti said, “As a government, we made the decision to remove the requirement for temporary residence permits for Albanian citizens, so that they can be employed without any issues in Kosovo.”

SERB RETURNEE TO GET PROTECTION: Serb returnee to Gjakova/Djakovica Dragica Gašić said she has received police protection since returning to her apartment, but has had her  . She noted that Serbia’s Office for Kosovo will provide her with an armored metal door, video surveillance, and window bars, according to KosSev. Eleven NGOs in Gjakova/Djakovica wrote to the government to evict Gašić from her apartment on Monday.

SLOVENIAN GOV’T ON FUNDING STA: The Slovenian government said it would transfer an €845,000 advance to the Slovenian Press Agency (STA). The transfer is stipulated on the STA providing UKOM to look into their business documents over the past decade.

KOSOVO ENERGY: “Rights watchdog Amnesty International on Monday called on Kelkos Energy, a company that operates hydropower plants in a protected area in western Kosovo, to withdraw two lawsuits against two activists who have spoken out against the environmental impact of the projects, Shpresa Loshaj and Adriatik Gacaferi.

Amnesty International said that Loshaj and Gacaferri are facing ‘baseless defamation lawsuits which are designed to intimidate and silence them’ because of their campaign.” (Balkan Insight)

IN OTHER NEWS

OP-EDThe political consequences of NATO membership for Montenegro by Visar Xhambazi in New Eastern Europe

ANALYSIS
Kosovo War Crimes Court’s First Trial Will Set a Precedent by Xhorxhina Bami in Balkan Insight

ANALYSISSlovenia takes over EU presidency amid squabbles with Brussels by Valentina Dimitrievska in bne IntelliNews

ANALYSISThe Mladić Appeal Judgment and the Enduring Legacy of the Hague Tribunals by Steven Arrigg Koh in Just Security

ANALYSIS: Stanisic and Simatovic, Belgrade’s Security Strongmen by Milica Stojanović and Marija Ristić in Balkan Insight

ANALYSISAnniversary of the Assassination: Gavrilo Princip – A Hero or maybe a Criminal? in Sarajevo Times