WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN THE BALKANS TODAY

CORONAVIRUS by the numbers:

  • BiH: 5,458 confirmed cases,  2,598 recovered, 199 deaths.
  • CROATIA: 3,220 confirmed cases, 2,210 recovered, 113 deaths.
  • KOSOVO: 3,508 confirmed cases, 1,902 recovered, 75 deaths.
  • N. MACEDONIA: 7,124 confirmed cases, 346 deaths.
  • MONTENEGRO: 841 confirmed cases, 315 recovered, 14 deaths.
  • SERBIA: 16,420 confirmed cases, 13,366  recovered, 317 deaths.
  • SLOVENIA: 1,716 confirmed cases, 111 deaths.

REST IN PEACE: Pfc. Alexander Blake Klass, 20, of the Oregon National Guard was killed in a “non-combat related incident” at Camp Novo Selo, Kosovo. He was supporting Operation Joint Guardian. The Department of Defense is investigating the incident.

KOSOVO SERBIA DIALOGUE CONTINUES IN BRUSSELS: EU Spokesperson Peter Stano announced a virtual summit on July 10 with Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic and Kosovo’s PM Avdullah Hoti. The summit is hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. On July 12, Vucic and Hoti will lead teams for dialogue hosted by  the EU’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell and facilitated by Special Representative to the Kosovo-Serbia Dialogue Miroslav Lajcak. Stano notes the July 12 meeting will “resume the discussions and the work on reaching a comprehensive and legally binding agreement between Kosovo and Serbia dealing with all outstanding issues.”

HOTI IN PARIS TODAY: The Office of the PM of Kosovo announced that PM Hoti is visiting Paris today to meet with French President Emmanuel Macron.

HDZ TO FORM GOV’T WITH 76 SEATS: HDZ leader Andrej Plenkovic announced today he has the 76 seats needed for a parliamentary majority after his party dominated elections over the weekend, garnering 66 seats for their party alone. There is much speculation he is creating the coalition with smaller parties and national minorities. HDZ topped the vote with 66 seats, SDP finished with 41 seats, Homeland Movement with 16 seats, MOST with 8 seats, Mozemo 7 seats, and Reformists and People’s Party 1 seat each.

BERNADARIC RESIGNS: After a disappointing result in Croatia’s parliamentary elections, SDP leader Davor Bernadaric resigned from party leadership.

SERBIA SENTENCES BOSNIAK TO WAR CRIMES: Serbia jailed Husein Mujanovic to ten years in prison for alleged war crimes against Serbs. Mujanovic’s lawyer said he would appeal the decision.

DZAFEROVIC + KOMSIC RESPOND: Chairman of the BiH Presidency Sefik Dzaferovic sharply criticized the verdict. He said, “The fact that the Serbian judiciary is conducting criminal proceedings for alleged war crimes against members of the Army of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina deserves every kind of condemnation. The judiciary of the Republic of Serbia, which had committed aggression against Bosnia as was established by several International Court of Justice verdicts, prosecutes those who defended Bosnia, in a situation where the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina is competent for such cases.” Bosnian Croat Member of the Presidency slammed the decision as well. He said, “Until it (Serbia) extradites Novak Djukic, a convicted war criminal, and as long as convicted war criminals are allowed to participate in their elections – Serbia has no right to try Bosnian citizens because Serbia is neither competent to prosecute nor respect the readmission agreement”

JANSA + VON DER LEYEN ON THURSDAY: “European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen will receive Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša in Brussels on Thursday, European Commission chief spokesperson Eric Mamer has announced. Details of what is one of the Commission president’s first in-person meetings, are not known yet.” (Slovenia Times)

RUSSIAN AMB. TO BiH SUMMONED: Bosnia’s Foreign Minister Bisera Turkovic summoned Russia’s Ambassador, Petr Ivantsov, after he wrote a critical op-ed about Bosnia’s path to NATO integration in response to the U.S. Senate Armed Forces Committee’s 2021 Defense Authorization Act.  Ivantsov called NATO “an aggressive military-political bloc which creates divisions in Europe and undermines pan-European stability and security” and warned against Bosnia joining the alliance. Minister Turkovic reminded Ambassador Ivantsov in a meeting on Monday that all decisions regarding NATO have been decided by consensus among the three presidency members.

WIRETAPS DAMPEN ELECTIONS IN N. MACEDONIA: The two main political parties in N. Macedonia, SDSM and VMRO-DPMNE, were subjected to leaked wiretaps from an anonymous source. SDSM President Zoran Zaev was heard saying he is financing SDSM and his family is worth 8 million euros. On June 17, VMRO-DPMNE leader Hristijan Mickokski was heard praising associates of businessman Zoran Milevski who was jailed in the extortion case.

ZAEV GARNERS SPANISH SUPPORT: But SDSM-led coalition, We Can, and leader Zoran Zaev received support from Spanish PM Pedro Sanchez via video message. Sanchez said, “I hope that North Macedonia will continue to be led by such a pro-European government after July 15 elections and that it will enable the state to progress at a faster pace at home and the international scene.” And added, “Dear Zoran, I thank you a lot and wish you a lot of success.”

SERBIAN CITIZENS TO QUARANTINE IN MNE: Montenegro’s National Coordinating Body for Contagious Diseases announced that Serbian citizens will be sent to “quarantine in the premises the state defined” as opposed to self-isolation. It cited the recent outbreak in the nearby Sandzak region and growing number of cases in Serbia for the measure.

IN OTHER NEWS
OP-ED: “The world failed in Bosnia 25 years ago. We cannot turn a blind eye again” by Phil Rosenberg in Jewish NewsOP-ED: “Turkey in the Balkans: A march westward” by Andrei Isaev in Modern Diplomacy

ANALYSIS: “Balkan States Find Prosecuting Terrorism a Challenge” in BIRN

ANALYSIS: “‘Albanian PM’ Becomes Wild Card in North Macedonia Election” by Sinisa Jakov Murasic in BIRN

HUMAN INTEREST: “Srebrenica genocide stories told by women (VIDEO)” in N1

CULTURE: “Where Italian and Croatian Cuisine Meet” by Florence Fabricant in The New York Times

CULTURE: “This is Badland: the zine breaking down myths about the Balkans” by Paula Erizanu in Calvert Journal

TRAVEL: “Armchair travel: Slovenia, castles, mountains and quiet away from crowds” by Cheryl Toivola in Napa Valley Register