WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN THE BALKANS TODAY

EVENT ANNOUNCEMENT: Join us for a webinar on Wednesday, August 5, at 2:00PM EST/8:00PM CET. The event titled “Perspectives from the State Department: A conversation with Deputy Assistant Secretary and Special Representative to the Western Balkans Matthew Palmer” will touch on the latest developments in the Balkans. Space is limited. Please e-mail any questions for DAS Palmer to editor@balkaninsider.com Register here.

CORONAVIRUS by the numbers:

  • BiH: 11,876 confirmed cases,  5,959 recovered, 339 deaths.
  • CROATIA: 5,260 confirmed cases, 4,373 recovered, 149 deaths.
  • KOSOVO: 8,799 confirmed cases, 4,863 recovered, 249 deaths.
  • N. MACEDONIA: 11,054 confirmed cases, 497 deaths.
  • MONTENEGRO: 3,258 confirmed cases, 51 deaths.
  • SERBIA: 26,193 confirmed cases, 21,407 recovered, 590 deaths.
  • SLOVENIA: 2,180 confirmed cases, 120 deaths.

HAPPY EID!: We would like to send everyone in the region that celebrated Eid over the weekend. Sefik Mubarak Olsun! Me fat Kurban Bajrami!

HAPPY ILINDEN: We would like to wish all of our subscribers and readers throughout the Balkans a happy Ilinden, or Statehood Day for N. Macedonia. We join leaders like former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, President of N. Macedonia Stevo Pendarovski, and opposition leader Talat Xhaferi and Hristijan Mickokski.

REEKER + DARMANOVIC: Montenegro’s FM Srdjan Darmanovic met with Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Europe and Eurasia Philip Reeker who expressed support for Euro-Atlantic integration. They also spoke about the situation with the Serbian Orthodox Church and Montenegro’s NATO accession. The two sides released a joint statement.

KOSOVO-SERBIA DIALOGUE:

  • Kosovo State Coordinator on Dialogue with Serbia, Skender Hyseni, is in Washington, DC for meetings with U.S. government officials over the course of the next few days.
  • Blerim Shala, an adviser to Kosovo President Hashim Thaci, said President Donald Trump’s Special Envoy to the dialogue, Richard Grenell remains committed to  finding a comprehensive final solution.
  • The opposition in Kosovo, Vetvendosje and AAK, have expressed concern over the transparency of the dialogue.
  • Serbia’s FM Ivica Dacic reiterated that a comprehensive deal will not end in mutual recognition. He said, “During that time, almost ninety countries recognized Kosovo. During our rule, 18 countries withdrew the recognition of Kosovo, so that Kosovo no longer has a majority for the admission to international organizations.” And added, “So stop lying to the people that someone will recognize Kosovo.”

DZAFEROVIC SLAMS MILANOVIC: Chairman of the BiH Presidency Sefik Dzaferovic slammed Croatia’s President Zoran Milanovic to present a medal to retired Bosnian Croat General Zlatan Mijo Jelic who has been indicted for war crimes in Bosnia. Dzaferovic said, “We want our neighbors to respect us as much as we respect them. We will not allow anyone to insult and humiliate us.”

MEANWHILE: Croatian Serb MP will attend the 25th commemoration of the 1995 Operation Storm. He wrote in a lengthy Facebook post, “It was not easy for me to make this decision, both because of the personal family tragedy, and because of all the Serbs who lost someone in the ‘Storm’, those who are in exile and those who had returned, even though the return process was obstructed. I know the fate of those people well because I have been helping to solve their problems for almost my entire professional and political career, for the past 18 years.”

SERBIA BUYING CHINESE DEFENSE SYSTEM: Balkan Security Network reports that the Serbian Army will receive three FK-3 anti-aircraft missile systems.

BiH + EUFOR: Bosnia’s Security Minister Selmo Cikotic met with Commander EUFOR Major General Reinhard Trischak. They spoke about mutual cooperation including the upcoming EUFOR-led Quick Response exercise with BiH’s Armed Forces and law enforcement.

AMBASSADOR SUMMONED TO THE HAGUE: Kosovo’s Ambassador to N. Macedonia Gjergj Dedaj has been summoned by the Kosovo Special Prosecutor’s Office in The Hague for questioning.

KOSOVO + EC: “The European Commission has signed Thursday a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Kosovo paving the way for the first disbursement of €50 million in macro-financial assistance (MFA). A second installment of €50 million will be disbursed later 2020 or early 2021.” (Gazeta Express)

MONTENEGRO + EIB: “The European Investment Bank (EIB) signed a second tranche worth €40 million for the rehabilitation of 180 kilometres of road along the five main routes in Montenegro. The loan from the EU bank is complemented by a €1.5 million technical assistance grant awarded under the Economic Resilience Initiative (ERI). It is the first ERI grant to be awarded to a project in the Western Balkans. The total EIB investment worth €80 million is expected to increase road safety and efficiency and facilitate faster economic recovery and regional trade.” (Devdiscourse)

KOSOVO PM TESTS POSITIVE: Kosovo PM Avdullah Hoti has tested positive for Covid-19. He will be working from home in self-isolation over the next two weeks. He wrote on Facebook that he only had a minor cough.

WIND ENERGY: “A German investor will start building the 50 MW Grebak wind farm, worth some 130 million marka ($78.7 million/66.5 million euro), in Bosnia’s Nevesinje municipality, in October, the energy ministry of Bosnia’s Serb Republic said. The company plans to install eight Siemens wind turbines of 6.6 MW each at the location, as the wind farm’s output is projected at 150 MWh annually, Admir Rahimic, the director general of Vetroelektrana Grebak, the local company implementing the project, was quoted as saying in the energy ministry’s statement.” (Renewables Now)

ALBANIA DETAINS FORMER KLA SOLDIER: Albania detained a former KLA soldier on an Interpol warrant at the request of Serbia.

SERBIAN DRUG LORD JAILED: Serbian drug lord Darko Saric was sentenced to nine years in prison by Belgrade’s High Court.

RAISING MONEY: Infobip, a Croatian IT company, has raised over $200 million from the One Equity Partners investment fund.

IN OTHER NEWS

ANALYSIS: “How Yugoslavia’s Military-Grade Weapons Haunt Western Europe” by Joel Fraser in The Defense PostANALYSIS: “Montenegro at Risk of Facing Mass Civil Unrest After Elections” by Gawain Towler in The Telegraph/Total Montenegro News

HUMAN INTEREST: “Natali Svilokos, a Community Story from Serbia” in the European Commission blog

CULTURE: “Sarajevo’s landmark hotel faces hard times amid pandemic” by Eldar Erdic in AP News

CULTURE: “Travel to Croatia with my great-aunt’s strudel recipe” by Belina Luksic in SBS

SPORT: “Meet Peter John Stevens: Slovenia’s ‘Iron Cowboy’ in swimming” by Markos Papadatos in Digital Journal

SPORT: “Watch: Blazers’ Jusuf Nurkić with a poster in first game in 16 months” by Vincent Frank in MSN Sports

TRAVEL: “2020 Record: Over 30,000 Passengers Recorded at Split Airport this Weekend” in Total Croatia News