WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN THE BALKANS TODAY

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CORONAVIRUS by the numbers:

  • BiH: 12,856 confirmed cases,  6,592 recovered, 373 deaths.
  • CROATIA: 5,318 confirmed cases, 4,517 recovered, 154 deaths.
  • KOSOVO: 9,274 confirmed cases, 5,190 recovered, 296 deaths.
  • N. MACEDONIA: 11,202 confirmed cases, 502 deaths.
  • MONTENEGRO: 3,361 confirmed cases, 53 deaths.
  • SERBIA: 26,738 confirmed cases, 22,703 recovered, 605 deaths.
  • SLOVENIA: 2,190 confirmed cases, 123 deaths.

OPERATION STORM COMMEMORATION REACTIONS:

  • Croatia’s President Zoran Milanovic: “Not everyone who received a sentence in The Hague is a war criminal. Delic and Mladic and Karadzic are not the same.” And on attempts at the ICTY to blame Croatia as a Joint Criminal Enterprise, “That failed as an intent, we also had luck that not a single one of our generals was smeared and in the end none were convicted for that joint criminal enterprise, which was one’ of the more stupid and ugly fabrications that was attempted to be placed on Croatia’s back
  • Croatia’s PM Andrej Plenkovic: “Based on our mutual trust we will work, as we did in the last term in office, on promoting the equality of all citizens and on making it possible for everyone to live in dignity in line with 21st century standards. Specifically, that means electricity and water supply in isolated communities.” On the question of officials wearing t-shirts bearing controversial slogans, Plenkovic noted, “I expect those who are part of the official protocol to wear T-shirts that identify their units that fought in the Homeland War or official T-shirts provided by the War Veterans Ministry.”
  • Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic: Serbs never asked “the other side to admit the genocides over the Serb people, something that is so obvious, but only to show respect for Serb victims.” And added “Don’t make us celebrate the killing of the Serbs with you, describing that as a big step forward.”
  • Bosnian Serb Member of the Presidency Milorad Dodik: “Our revenge is that today there are Serbs who gathered today to pay their respects to their victims.” And added, “The Croats did not hide that their goal is to want Croatia without Serbs, and to reduce them to a statistical error.”
  • Patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church Irinej: “We mark it as the greatest tragedy, while our Croat brothers celebrate it as the biggest triumph in their history.”


HYSENI + GRENELL: Kosovo State Coordinator for the dialogue with Serbia, Skender Hyseni, spoke on the phone with U.S. President Donald Trump’s Special Envoy to the Kosovo-Serbia Dialogue, Richard Grenell, who is currently in California and unable to meet Hyseni in Washington, DC. Hyseni relayed that Ambassador Grenell remains committed to the dialogue through economic development and investment projects.

N. MACEDONIA CONSTITUTES PARLIAMENT: N. Macedonia constituted its parliament on Tuesday. The We Can coalition (SDSM-BESA) led by Zoran Zaev won 46 seats while Hristijan Mickoski’s VMRO-DPMNE won 44 seats. Ali Ahmenti’s ethnic Albanian DUI came in third with 15 seats.  Negotiations to form government coalitions began right away. Should DUI agree to a coalition with the We Can coalition, it would be enough seats in parliament to form a majority. But the price is high –  Ahmeti’s goal is for N. Macedonia to have its first ethnic Albanian PM.

ELECTIONS IN MONTENEGRO: Electoral lists were due by midnight last night for the August 30 parliamentary and local elections. Expect the campaign to heat up in the weeks leading up to elections. 

BRNABIC FOR PM?: Serbia’s potentially outgoing PM Ana Brnabic told Pink TV that she is one of two people being considered for the role of prime minister in the next government and the other candidate is also from the Serbian Progressive Party (SNS). She said, “There are two candidates for prime minister, I am one of the candidates, I know who the other is, but it is not up to me to say who he is. It is a person from the SNS.” But she was rebuked by a Deputy PM Zorana Mhajlovic who said, “As far as I can remember, we haven’t discussed a candidate for a new prime minister at our party’s session.”

SERBIAN GOV’T COALITION: Meanwhile, when it comes to a government coalition, PM Brnabic said President Vucic is considering a coalition with Aleksandar Sapic’s Serbian Patriotic Alliance. But she thinks it’s “is the best possible option for Serbia” to form a coalition with only national minorities

ARREST WARRANT ISSUED FOR KOSOVO MP: “The Basic Court of Prishtina has issued an arrest warrant against MP Etem Arifi, ordering his remand in a detention centre to serve a prison sentence of one year and three months. Arifi, a representative of the Ashkali Party for Integration, was convicted of fraud by the court in April 2018. Arifi and his co-defendant Bajram Gashi were initially each handed down a two year suspended sentence, but a successful appeal by the Special Prosecution led to prison sentences for both men.” (Prishtina Insight)

RECOVERED: Deputy Speaker of the House of Peoples of the Parliamentary Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina and leader of HDZ BiH Dragan Covic has recovered from Covid-19.

RUSSIA ADDED TO MNE’S GREEN LIST: The National Coordination Body for Communicable Diseases of Montenegro has added citizens of the Russian Federation and Azerbaijan to the green list. Their citizens can enter Montenegro without further restrictions. Just last week, the Montenegro’s Ministry of Sustainable Development and Tourism requested the National Coordination Body for Infectious Diseases to add Russia to the green list in an effort to stymie the effects of tourism during Covid-19.

CORRUPTION ALLEGATIONS IN SLOVENIA: The MPs of Pensioners’ Party (DeSUS) expect Agriculture Minister Aleksandra Pivec to give an explanation about allegations of corruption after a trip to a winemaker and who paid for it. DeSUS wants its member to share her side of the story by Friday, but Minister Pivec announced she will meet with the party when she returns to Ljubljana.

BRAWLS IN NORTH MITROVICA: There have been three brawls in two days in the center of North Mitrovica, Kosovo. In the latest incident, a plainclothes police officer got into a scuffle with a civilian. Reports are conflicting as to what triggered the fight but the police officer in question shot into the air.

IN OTHER NEWS