WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN THE BALKANS TODAY
CORONAVIRUS by the numbers:
  • BiH: 16,351 confirmed cases,  10,279 recovered, 495 deaths.
  • CROATIA: 6,855 confirmed cases, 5,318 recovered, 166 deaths.
  • KOSOVO: 11,545 confirmed cases, 7,343 recovered, 390 deaths.
  • N. MACEDONIA: 12,970 confirmed cases, 549 deaths.
  • MONTENEGRO: 4,085 confirmed cases, 80 deaths.
  • SERBIA: 29,890 confirmed cases, 27,702 recovered, 681 deaths.
  • SLOVENIA: 2,456 confirmed cases, 129 deaths.

BOLTON ON SEPT. 2 MEETING: Former NSA John Bolton spoke about the meeting at the White House with leaders from Kosovo and Serbia on September 2. He thinks “it will be a great campaign event for President Trump” and “it is very much in the interest of the US to resolve each of the remaining Balkan area disputes.” And added, “I think that the instability caused by not being able to regularize the relationship between Kosovo and Serbia just gives Russia possibility to work into and increase that instability.” He concluded, “it in the interest of the US, whether in public or behind the scenes to work to see if we can have those two countries reach an agreement? I think it very much is. That is what the administration is doing.”

COALITION FORMED IN N. MACEDONIA: The leaders of SDSM and DUI, Zoran Zaev and Ali Ahmeti, on Tuesday reached an agreement to form a government in N. Macedonia. Zoran Zaev will lead the government until 100 days before the next election when an ethnic Albanian will be nominate a leader for the caretaker government.

VUCIC MEETS WITH CROATIAN NAT’L COUNCIL: Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic met with the President of the Croatian Nacional Council in Serbia Jasna Vojnic. She described the meeting with Vucic as “constructive and held in a positive atmosphere.” Vojnic also noted there has been progress over the past few years in greater representation for the Croat community, but “A guaranteed mandate is something we won’t give up on.”

STOLTENBERG-HOTI: NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg spoke with Kosovo PM Avdullah Hoti yesterday about “importance of in preserving security, and fighting COVID-19 in Kosovo.” Stoltenberg also added he welcomed “progress in the EU-sponsored Belgrade-Pristina dialogue as the only way to achieve a lasting political solution.” Meanwhile, PM Hoti thanked NATO for support during Covid-19 and Kosovo is “committed to its Euro-Atlantic future and becoming part of NATO.”

CROATIAN FM ON BiH’S TRANSATLANTIC INTEGRATION, CROATS IN BiH: Croatian FM Gordan Grlic Radman expressed solidarity for BiH’s transatlantic integration and Croats in BiH. he said, “Croatia strongly advocates Bosnia and Herzegovina’s European path and I think that we can help them a lot on that path with our experience and expertise. I can proudly stress that as a sister party (HDZ) we share the same European values and advocate Bosnia and Herzegovina’s European path and (integration ) in transatlantic organizations.” He added, “The Croat people, as the least numerous people, deserves to exercise those rights through amendments to the election law, which belong to them pursuant to the Dayton Peace Accord and the constitution.”

BRAJOVIC + ODIHR: Speaker of Parliament Ivan Brajovic met with the head of the OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) for the election observation mission to Montenegro ahead of parliamentary and local elections on August 30. Brajovic and his interlocutor, Tamas Maseric, discussed the amended election legislation after ODIHR recommendations from the previous election cycle. Brajovic said, “I believe that your expert and impartial assessments will confirm that Montenegro has improved the election legislation in accordance with the given recommendations, and that each election cycle takes place in better regulated conditions”

EC EXPECTS INVESTIGATION INTO MOZURA WIND FARM: “The European Commission expects a ‘credible, independent, and efficient’ investigation into allegations of corruption surrounding the construction of the Možura wind farm, according to the commission’s spokesperson, Ana Pisonero. The corruption allegations had also been the subject of an investigation conducted by the murdered Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia. Assistant director of the Montenegrin Police Administration Enis Baković has said the institution will act ‘promptly and efficiently’ if it receives a request from Malta through Interpol and Europol regarding the murder. On the other hand, Montenegrin Parliament Speaker Ivan Brajović in June rejected the opposition’s motion to debate setting up a parliamentary committee that would look into the Možura case.” (Balkan Green Energy News)

PROTESTING MIGRANTS IN BiH: Residents of Bihac have planned a protest on August 29 against the brewing migrant crisis in the city. This comes on the heels of protests over the past two days Velika Kladusa over the same issue.

BORDER FENCE ERECTED B/T SERBIA & N. MACEDONIA: A steel border fence has been built on the Serbia- N. Macedonia border to prevent a potential influx of migrants on the Balkan route. Shqiprim Afriri, the mayor of Presevo, noted “We think that the fence is an additional protection of the boundaries with the non-EU countries from an influx of refugees who might again come en masse through the Balkan route.”

CANCELLED: KF Prishtina’s Europa League match against Lincoln Red Imps has been cancelled after seven KF Prishtina’s players tested positive for Covid-19. The club follows KF Drita who were eliminated after being forced to quarantine when two of its players tested positive for coronavirus ahead of its Europa League match against Linfield which forced Drita to be eliminated from the competition.

MEANWHILE…: Slovenia will make a decision tomorrow regarding mandatory quarantine for citizens coming from Croatia to quarantine after an outbreak in Croatia. The government will meet tomorrow to discuss a strategy and a mandatory quarantine is expected to come into force over the weekend.

AMERICAN CONSTRUCTION CONSULTING FIRM IN BiH: “Hill International (NYSE:HIL) (Hill), the global leader in managing construction risk, announced today it has been selected by JP Autoceste FBiH to provide technical assistance to the Project Implementation Unit (PIU) for the construction of an approximately 5.5 KM motorway between Poprikuše and Nemila in the Mediterranean Core Network (Corridor Vc). The Corridor Vc project represents a €188.3 million investment by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the European Investment Bank. Given the challenging geotechnical properties of the region, the new motorway will feature several unique elements, such as the 3.6 KM Golubinja tunnel, two bridges, two viaducts, an overpass, and a roundabout.” (Global News Wire)

EUROPEAN CITIES OF CULTURE EXTENDED: “Due to the effects of the coronavirus crisis, the European Commission has today proposed to give Rijeka (Croatia) and Galway (Ireland) the possibility to extend their year as 2020 European Capitals of Culture until 30 April 2021. The Commission also proposes to postpone the year in which Novi Sad (Serbia) is due to host a European Capital of Culture from 2021 to 2022 and the year in which Timisoara (Romania) and Elefsina (Greece) will hold the title from 2021 to 2023.” (Sarajevo Times)

IN OTHER NEWS