WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN THE BALKANS TODAY

Join us for a webinar TOMORROW at 2:00PM EST/8:00PM CET. The event titled “Perspectives from the State Department: A conversation with Deputy Assistant Secretary of State 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: 12,462 confirmed cases,  6,359 recovered, 362 deaths.
  • CROATIA: 5,294 confirmed cases, 4,438 recovered, 153 deaths.
  • KOSOVO: 9,049 confirmed cases, 4,989 recovered, 249 deaths.
  • N. MACEDONIA: 11,128 confirmed cases, 500 deaths.
  • MONTENEGRO: 3,301 confirmed cases, 52 deaths.
  • SERBIA: 26,451 confirmed cases, 22,299 recovered, 598 deaths.
  • SLOVENIA: 2,181 confirmed cases, 122 deaths.

HYSENI IN WASHINGTON: Kosovo’s State Coordinator for the Kosovo-Serbia Dialogue Skender Hyseni yesterday met with Deputy Assistant Secretary of State and Special Representative to the Western Balkans Matthew Palmer and Ryan Tully and Amanda Ahlers in Washington, DC. Hyseni wrote on Facebook that he urged the U.S. to be at meetings at every step until a final agreement is reached. Hyseni noted, “We had an open and detailed discussion about the dialogue to give it a new dynamic without delays in the harmonisation of the main issues of a comprehensive agreement for mutual recognition and normalisation of relations between the Republic of Kosovo and Serbia.”

GOVERNMENT FORMATION IN N. MACEDONIA: The Parliament of N. Macedonia will convene for the first time today in a constitutive session. Zoran Zaev’s We Can coalition (SDSM/BESA) narrowly edged out rivals VMRO-DPMNE on the July 15 elections. The ethnic Albanian Democratic Union for Integration (DUI) came in third. The We Can coalition will likely have first crack at forming a government and have indicated they would start coalition talks immediately after d constitutive session. The constitutive session will be chaired by Talat Xhaferi.

PROTESTS AS SERBIAN MPS SWORN IN: A group of protesters gathered outside Serbian Parliament as its members were sworn in after the June 21 elections that the opposition boycotted. Tomatoes and eggs were thrown at new MPs entering the building while former MPs were arrested. Watch a video of the protests here. But new MP Misala Pramenkovic has become the first woman to wear a hijab as a Serbian MP. She is a member of the Party of Justice and Reconciliation of Muamer Zukorlic.

NEW OPPOSITION GROUP: The opposition group Alliance for Serbia (SzS) announced the creation of the United Opposition of Serbia (UOS), a new opposition group. Right wing party Dveri will not be a part of the UOS. The UOS wrote in a statement, “Because of the dramatic political situation, and the need for a broader front of acting, the United Opposition of Serbia will accept all parties and movements ready to fight for the respect of the Constitution and the rule of law, and against the authoritarian regime based on the will of one man.”

MNE SLAMS RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH: Montenegro’s Foreign Ministry accused the Russian Orthodox Church for interfering with the upcoming elections in Montenegro.

POPE ADDRESSES PILGRIMS IN BiH: Pope Francis released a statement for pilgrims at Medjugore in Bosnia and Herzegovina urging believers to let Mary inspire and guide them.

OPERATION STORM COMMEMORATION: Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic and PM Ana Brnabic will travel to the Serbia-Bosnia border crossing at Sremska Raca to observe the 25th anniversary for the commemoration of Operation Storm. Also in attendance will be Bosnian Serb Member of the Presidency Milorad Dodik and Patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church Irinej. Meanwhile, Croatia’s Veterans’ Affairs Minister Tomoo Medved “calls on everyone to have a united approach aimed at creating an atmosphere of normalisation and closure of many chapters that, in a certain way, burden Croatian society” after the announcement that the whole government cabinet would be attending the ceremony. And Croatia yesterday renamed a military training ground in Knin after Josip Markic who lost his life during Operation Summer 95 on August 3.

DVOR REMEMBERED: Bosnian Serbs on Monday marked the killing of about 100 Serbs in Dvor just after Operation Storm.

VULIN OUSTED FROM MILITARY UNION: The Serbian Military Union “awarded” Defense Minister Aleksandar Vulin the Black Plaque of Undesirable Employer. The union cited Vulin’s questionable procurements, wearing the Serbian Armed Services logo on a personal uniform, and losing more personnel than during the wars in the 1990s as key reasons for declaring him “undesirable.”

IN OTHER NEWS

OP-ED: “Opportunities from supply chain rethink — but can Southeast Europe take advantage?” by Clare Nuttall in BNE IntelliNewsANALYSIS: “BIRN Fact-check: Has Montenegro’s Government Kept its Promises” by Samir Kajosevic in BIRN

ANALYSIS: “Europe’s Southeast Grapples With COVID-19 Resurgence” by Nedim Dervisbegovic

HUMAN INTEREST: “My Father Died in a Genocide. The First Time I Saw Him Was On YouTube” by Nena Stefanovski in Vice World News: “Dženan Halilović, 28, was born in a village in the Srebrenica municipality of eastern Bosnia Herzegovina. In 1992, the year he was born, Bosnia declared independence from Yugoslavia, after a decade of ethnic tensions following Tito’s death in 1980. Eventually, civil war broke out and Dženan’s family was forced to leave everything behind, including his father Mirza.”

HUMAN INTEREST: “As TCN Celebrates 5 Years, Reflections on Running an English News Portal in Croatia” by Paul Bradbury in Total Croatia News

CULTURE: “North Macedonia’s first sign language cafe opens” by Cara Legg in Al Jazeera

CULTURE: “Being Stared At is an Issue for Expat Women in the Balkans (Story Series Continued)” in Sarajevo Times

SPORT: “VIDEO: Magic Johnson doesn’t disappoint fans in Croatia” in Croatia Week

TRAVEL: “A Cycling Tour of Slovenia” in Total Slovenia News