WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN THE BALKANS TODAY

CORONAVIRUS by the numbers:

  • BiH: 6,981 confirmed cases,  3,179 recovered, 226 deaths.
  • CROATIA: 3,827 confirmed cases, 2,558 recovered, 120 deaths.
  • KOSOVO: 5,118 confirmed cases, 2,370 recovered, 108 deaths.
  • N. MACEDONIA: 9,332 confirmed cases, 389 deaths.
  • MONTENEGRO: 1,287 confirmed cases, 24 deaths.
  • SERBIA: 18,983 confirmed cases, 13,991 recovered, 418 deaths.
  • SLOVENIA: 1,859 confirmed cases, 111 deaths.

ELECTIONS IN N. MACEDONIA: A close vote is expected for today’s elections with the ruling SDSM and opposition VMRO-DPMNE expected to receive 30-40% of the vote while ethnic Albanian DUI is expected to poll at 10%. Check out images of election officials bringing the ballots to citizens infected with COVID-19 and in quarantine on Monday.

AHEAD OF THE DIALOGUE: Kosovo PM Avdullah Hoti yesterday met with families of missing persons, just two days before meeting with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic in Brussels. A government statement said, “In this meeting were present the head of the Kosovo delegation in the Working Group on the issue of missing persons, Ibrahim Makolli, the head of the Government Commission on Missing Persons, Prenk Gjetaj, the head of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Kosovo, Agim Gashi and the representative of the Coordination Council of the Associations of the Families of the Missing, Ahmet Grajqevci.”

PROTESTS IN SERBIA: Protests have continued for the eighth night in Serbia but on a much smaller scale – around 300 protesters gathered. They first went to the jail before heading towards the Serbian Parliament.

VUCIC MEETS WITH PARTIES: Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic has begun to meet with political parties who passed the threshold in the parliamentary elections that the opposition boycotted. Vucic on Tuesday met with the leader of the Albanian Democratic Alternative – United Valley, Shaip Kamberi, who produced a list of proposals including recognition of Kosovo’s diplomas, education, and underdevelopment in Albanian areas of Serbia. The the ethnic Bosniak Party of Democratic Action (SDA) refused to meet with Vucic because of irregularities in the elections. Today, Vucic is set to meet with the leader of the Party for Justice and Reconciliation, Muamer Zukorlic, and the head of the Alliance of Vojvodina Hungarians, Istvan Pastor.

MARKOVIC IN BRUSSELS: Montenegrin PM Dusko Markovic on Tuesday met with Special Representative for the Kosovo-Serbia Dialogue Miroslav Lajcak. Markovic noted on Twitter, “His work as a spec. #EU repres. for #WB & Belgrade-Pristina dialogue is crucial to address the remaining issues in WB. In that he will always have the full support of MNE!” Markovic wrapped up his trip to Brussels by meeting with European Commissioner for Budget and Administration Johannes Hahn. Markovic wrote on Twitter, “It was a pleasure to exchange views on current topics with the Commissioner for Budget & Administr. In him #Montenegro and the #WesternBalkans region have a friend and supporter of our European path!”

SLOVENIAN MEPS WRITE TO SASSOLI: Two Slovenian MEPs, Klemen Groselj and Irena Joveva, wrote to European Parliament President David Sassoli claiming Slovenian PM Janez Jansa politicized the Srebrenica genocide in controversial tweets. The MEPs wrote, “We find such statements in complete disregard of historical facts, to be a gross misinterpretation of the tragedy that unfolded in Srebrenica and a shameful political manipulation that offends the memory of thousands of men, women and children who lost their lives in one of the most tragic events in recent European history…the abuse and politicisation of the Srebrenica genocide for pure internal ideological and partisan purposes” by Jansa is only the “tip of the iceberg of a broader and extremely worrying trend of historical revisionism and relativism brought about by the alarming growth of far-right and populist forces across the European Union.”

BOSKOVIC SLAMS SERBIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH: Montenegrin Defense Minister Predrag Boskovic slammed the Serbian Orthodox Church for wanting to bring Montenegro back centuries and obstruct itspath to the EU. He said, “they are first and foremost a political movement that wants to take Montenegro back centuries, that is, to try to completely bind it to Serbia and to completely block Montenegro’s path to the European Union.”

APPOINTMENTS IN BiH: The Council of Ministers of BiH has appointed Darko Culum as the director of the State Investigation and Protection Agency (SIPA) and Drasko Milinovic as the director of the Communications Regulatory Agency (RAK). Bosnia remains without a Minister of Security after the leaders of the three largest ethnic parties failed to reach an agreement.

CROATIAN MINISTRY OF EDUCATION IN ISOLATION: Croatia’s Minister of Education Blazenka Divjak and employees of the ministry are in self-isolation after a state secretary tested positive.

SERBIA AND MNE REMOVED FROM EUROPE SAFE LIST
: According to Reuters, the EU has removed Serbia and Montenegro from its safe list of countries that can travel to the EU for non-essential travel. The pair join the United States on the list of countries that are banned from traveling to the EU due to the number of COVID-19 cases.

GOING NUCLEAR: “The Croatian-Slovenian commission overseeing an agreement between the two countries on the regulation of relations concerning the jointly owned Krsko nuclear power plant met in Zagreb on Tuesday and approved the third revision of decommissioning and radioactive waste disposal programmes. The commission, meeting for the 14th time, discussed the work of the plant and the funds raised for decommissioning and waste disposal, the Croatian Environment and Energy Ministry said in a press release. Croatian Environment and Energy Minister Tomislav Coric and Slovenian Infrastructure Minister Jernej Vrtovec said they were pleased with the final approval of the programme revision.” (Total Croatia News)

JAMMING OUT: Popular music streaming service Spotify yesterday launched in Albania, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Montenegro, N. Macedonia, Serbia, and Slovenia. Whether you’re looking for Dua Lipa,  Riblja Corba, or Dino Merlin, you should not be able to listen to the best playlists directly from your phone.

UBER TO SLOVENIA?: “The Infrastructure Ministry is drawing up legislative changes that will allow ride hailing services through a digital platform in the manner provided for instance by US giant Uber, Infrastructure Minister Jernej Vrtovec told parliament on Monday. He expects the government will discuss the proposal in the autumn. The confirmation of what is the third attempt at adopting such legislation after 2017 and 2018 was made as Vrtovec was quizzed by the opposition Left’s Miha Kordiš about his announcement to this effect made during a TV appearance at the end of May.” (Slovenia Times)

IN OTHER NEWS
OP-ED: “Serbia-Kosovo deal: Can the EU succeed where Trump failed?” by Dimitar Bechev in al-Jazeera