WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN THE BALKANS TODAY

HAPPY STATEHOOD DAY, MONTENEGRO!: We would like to wish all Montenegrins who celebrated yesterday a Happy Statehood Day!

KOSOVO-SERBIA MEETING ON JULY 19: European Commission Spokesperson Peter Stano announced on Tuesday that the next high-level meeting between Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vučić and Kosovo’s PM Albin Kurti will take place in Brussels on July 19. The EU’s High Representative Josep Borrell and Special Envoy for the Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue Miroslav Lajčák will mediate the meeting.

BORRELL + TEGELTIJA IN BRUSSELS: Bosnia’s Chairman of Bosnia’s Council of Ministers Zoran Tegeltija led a delegation to Brussels for discussions with EU-BiH Stabilization and Association Council. EU High Representative Josep Borrell said at a joint press conference with Tegeltija that Bosnia will receive candidate status if it makes reforms.

  • “The reform would eliminate all forms of inequality and discrimination, including at constitutional level where necessary. The European Commission is ready to deliver, including on the candidate status provided that BiH also delivers with concrete results on fulfilling the key priorities,” said Borrell.
  • He added, “This includes adopting important rule-of-law and judicial reforms and launching a debate on the constitutional and electoral debate to comply with the requirement of the EU membership. This means full compliance with the European Court for Human Rights rulings and ensuring equal representation in the country for all. It also means ensuring the functionality of state institutions so that they are able to eventually participate effectively in European Union decision-making and to enforce the EU acquis.”
  • Meanwhile, Tegeltija noted, “When it comes to the measures that we have implemented, there is no complete agreement on whether that is enough or not. We believe that we have done a sufficient number of measures, that we are not the best student in the process of joining the EU, but we have certainly done as many measures as possible to qualify for a successful process and to grant BiH the candidate status.”

KOSOVO’S KURTI ON RECOGNITION: Kosovo’s PM Kurti yesterday told European Western Balkans that his country could continue without Serbia’s recognition. “Of course, I would prefer Serbia to recognize Kosovo, but if it does not do that, we must live without that recognition,” said Kurti. He added that he would not trade recognition by Serbia for the territory or functionality of Kosovo. Read the full interview HERE.

MILANOVIĆ SAYS BiH WILL CHANGE VOTING: On the final day of a visit to neighboring Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia’s President Zoran Milanović said that “outvoting ethnic Croats” would “come to an end,” a reference to further ethnic segregation in the country. He also blamed Bosniaks for “the cause of political instability, nervousness, and misfortune in BiH.” Croats make up around 15% of the population of Bosnia. The European Union has called for Bosnia to move towards a civic state and not further division along ethnic lines.

MONTENEGRO + KAZAKHSTAN: Montenegro’s Deputy PM Dritan Abazović met with Kazakh PM Askar Mamin in Nur-Sultan on a visit to Kazakhstan. They are aiming to increase economic cooperation between the two countries. Abazović highlighted the increased cooperation through the opening of a Consulate of Kazakhstan in Podgorica and a direct flight between Podgorica and Nur-Sultan.

SHEKERINSKA + PANAGIOTOPOULOS: Defense Minister of N. Macedonia Radmila Shekerinska met with Greek counterpart Nikos Panagiotopoulos in Athens to discuss bilateral defense cooperation for 2021, including some seventy activities. Shekerinska is attending the DEFEA 21 International Arms Fairs in Athens.

UNMIK HEAD CALLS FOR ALLOWING REINTEGRATION OF RETURNEES TO KOSOVO:  Special Representative of the Secretary General and Head of the UN Interim Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) Zahir Tanin said on Tuesday that “Facilitating the safe, dignified, and sustainable return and reintegration of all returnees is essential to ensuring Kosovo’s future as a democratic, multi-ethnic society founded upon human rights and the rule of law, and is vital to advancing broader inter-community trust building and reconciliation efforts.”

  • Tanin is referring to the recent case of Dragics Gašić who attempted to become the first returnee to Gjakova/Djakovica. NGOs called for her to be removed from the city and the Municipality of Gjakova/Djakovica filed a lawsuit that requested her “contract on leasing an apartment be annulled with a request for an interim measure.”
  • Serbia’s Office for Kosovo said it would provide Gašić security and support for returning to Kosovo.

SKOPJE’S MOTHER TERESA MEMORIAL CONUNDRUM: Skopje’s Centar Municipality Mayor Saša Bogdanović said that an unfinished memorial complex dedicated to Skopje’s own Mother Teresa should not be completed in its current location because it blocks a street. N. Macedonia has come under pressure from The Vatican to complete the memorial. Bogdanović said, “We think that this memorial should not be in that place, not because we have anything against its significance or against the legacy, but on the contrary, because it is placed in the middle of a street.” Construction of the unfinished memorial complex began in 2015.

ZAGREB MAYOR SAYS HE DOESN’T OWE FAVORS: Zagreb Mayor Tomislav Tomašević on Monday said he does not owe anyone favors and he will only act in the public’s interest. Tomašević has had two complaints opened up against him by the Conflict of Interest Commission over two appointments. He defended the appointments since over 1,500 people contributed to the campaign and they are experts.

ALBANIANS + MACEDONIANS SIGN AGREEMENT TO PROTECT OHRID: The Ministers of Culture of Albania and N. Macedonia, Elva Margariti and Irena Stefoska, signed an agreement to preserve Lake Ohrid. The lake straddles the border of N. Macedonia and Albania. Meanwhile, UNESCO in January threatened to downgrade the Macedonian city of Ohrid’s status to “endangered” if steps weren’t taken to address persistent problems with urbanization.

FROM UBER MANAGER TO SLOVENIAN GOV’T MINISTER: “A manager for US tech giant Uber has been nominated for a new cabinet post in Slovenia charged with overseeing the country’s digital transformation as the head of the digital transformation office, a new government department.

“‘Digital transformation is a demanding and strategically important process that requires a lot of inter-ministerial coordination,’ Prime Minister Janez Janša said as he announced the nomination of Mark Boris Andrijanič for minister without portfolio.” (Euraktiv)

FALCON-21 WRAPS OFF: A week-long tripartite special forces exercise between Greek, Cypriot, and Serbian forces dubbed Falcon-21 wrapped up on July 10.

GENOCIDE DENIAL IN BiH: “The Association of Witnesses and Victims of Genocide sent a letter to the High Representative of the international community in Bosnia, urging him to impose a law banning genocide denial in the country and reminding him that he promised BiH would have such a law two years ago.

“Outgoing High Representative, Valentin Inzko, who is tasked with overseeing the civilian implementation of the 1995 Dayton Peace Agreement, has been advocating for such a law to be adopted in the country for years.” (N1)

SERBIAN COURT DISMISSED COMPLAINT AGAINST ACTOR: “The prosecution dismissed a criminal complaint accusing Branislav Lecic of raping actress Danijela Stajnfeld in 2012 because it said there are no grounds for suspicion that the well-known actor committed the crime.

“The High Prosecutor’s Office in Belgrade told BIRN on Tuesday that it has dismissed the criminal complaint against famous actor Branislav Lecic, who was accused of rape by actress Danijela Stajnfeld. The Prosecutor’s Office told BIRN that Stajnfeld’s criminal complaint was dismissed ‘because there are no grounds for suspicion that the said criminal offense was committed’.” (Balkan Insight)

IN OTHER NEWS

OP-EDAnother nail in the coffin for land swap by Klarisa Fetahu in Prishtina Insight

ANALYSISThe EU’s vulnerable periphery: China in the Western Balkans by Yatharath Kachiar and Priya Poojary in Financial Express