WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN THE BALKANS TODAY
CORONAVIRUS by the numbers:

  • BiH: 14,961 confirmed cases,  8,827 recovered, 453 deaths.
  • CROATIA: 5,870 confirmed cases, 5,024 recovered, 160 deaths.
  • KOSOVO: 10,419 confirmed cases, 6,058 recovered, 341 deaths.
  • N. MACEDONIA: 12,217 confirmed cases, 530 deaths.
  • MONTENEGRO: 3,748 confirmed cases, 71 deaths.
  • SERBIA: 28,751 confirmed cases, 25,639 recovered, 658 deaths.
  • SLOVENIA: 2,303 confirmed cases, 129 deaths.

POMPEO’S SLOVENIA SCHEDULE: The government of Slovenia released the media schedule for U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s visit to the country. Secretary Pompeo and his wife will be greeted at the airport in Ljubljana by PM Janez Jansa before heading to Bled. There will be a working session of the delegations, signing of the 5G Joint Declaration by Sec. Pompeo and FM Anze Logar,  and a meeting with President Borut Pahor.

GOVERNMENT FORMATION IN N. MACEDONIA: President Stevo Pendarovski announced SDSM will have a mandate to form a ruling government with Zoran Zaev as PM designate. He will have 20 days to form a parliamentary majority. Leader of DUI, Ali Ahemeti, is angling for an ethnic Albanian PM for the first year of the four year mandate. Meanwhile, Talat Xhaferi announced a constitutive session of parliament at 3:00PM local time to decide a new Speaker of Parliament.

RUSSIA + SERBIA + RS + COVID: After Russia claimed it found a vaccine for Covid-19, Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic announced he “will be the first to take the vaccine when Serbian specialists say it’s good…Our specialists must just confirm to us that it is safe and reliable.” Meanwhile, Bosnian Serb Member of the Presidency Milorad Dodik said he would request the vaccine from Moscow for Bosnia and Herzegovina as soon as possible. And PM of Bosnia’s Serb-dominated entity, Republika Srpska, Radovan Viskovic offered an advance for the vaccine.

HARADINAJ TO RUN FOR PRESIDENT: The Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK) announced plans to put former PM Ramush Haradinaj as a potential candidate for president. The AAK also gave Haradinaj the mandate to “hold talks on behalf of the AAK” in any government “reconfiguration.”

VUCIC + IRINEJ: Serbia’s Vucic met with Patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church Irinej. The pair held comprehensive talks that focused on Kosovo and the completion of the St. Sava Cathedral.

ELECTIONS IN MONTENEGRO: Montenegro’s State Election Commission (SEC) released its opinion on voting with expired documents. The SEC will allow citizens to use expired documents to vote – there are currently around 30,000 eligible voters with expired documents.

EBRD + BiH & MNE: The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) approved a loan of up to 15 million euro to Intesa Sanpaolo Bank Bosnia and Herzegovina. In neighboring Montenegro, the EBRD approved a loan of up to 50 million euro to Elektroprivreda Crne Gore, the country’s main energy supplier.

SLOVENIA + SURE: “Slovenia has formally submitted its application for financial support as part of the European instrument for temporary support to mitigate unemployment risks in an emergency (SURE). Slovenia has listed measures providing support to furloughed workers, enabling short-time work, basic income, state-covered social contributions for the self-employed and other groups worth a total of EUR 1.1 billion.” (Slovenia Times)

MIGRANTS + BiH: “Yesterday, the Minister of Security of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), Selmo Cikotic, was on a working visit to Bihac, where he discussed the extent of the migrant crisis with the local authorities. He held a meeting with Mustafa Ruznic, the Una Sana Canton (USC) Prime Minister, and his team. Cikotic said that this is a global issue that has direct consequences in our region and in BiH. ‘We do not all bear the burden of the crisis equally, and not all institutions participate in mitigating the consequences of the crisis. The USC is experiencing all the negative aspects of that crisis and the inefficient action of some other institutions,’ said the Minister of Security of BiH.” (Sarajevo Times)

LATVIAN TROOPS TO KOSOVO: The Latvian government announced it plans to send troops to the NATO KFOR mission in Kosovo. Latvia participated in the KFOR mission between 2000 and 2009. There will not be more than 160 Latvian troops sent to Kosovo.

IN OTHER NEWS
OP-ED: “Don’t Blame Balkan Citizens For the Latest COVID Surge” by Florian Bieber in BIRNANALYSIS: “‘Albanian PM’ Demand May be Slowing North Macedonia Coalition Talks” by Sinisa Jakov Marusic in BIRN

ANALYSIS: “Forgotten Victims: Serbs Targeted in Bosnia-Croatia Border Village Killings” by Vladimir Susak in BIRN

ANALYSIS: “Kosovo Divisions Risk Undermining EU Push for Deal with Serbia” by Xhorxhina Bami in BIRN

HUMAN INTEREST: “Rebuilding cultures through art, design, and community” by Peter Dizikes in MIT News: “Once displaced by war, MIT’s Azra Akšamija creates works of cultural resilience in the face of social conflict.”

CULTURE: “VIDEO: Playful Dolphins Frolic in Sea Between Islands Iz and Ugljan” by Lauren Simmonds in Total Croatia News

SPORT: “Champions League: Linfield given bye through to first round after tie with Drita (Kosovo) called off” in BBC News

TRAVEL
: “Many Vacancies at Ljubljana Hotels, Guests on Way to Croatia” in Total Slovenia News