WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN THE BALKANS TODAY

CORONAVIRUS by the numbers:

  • BiH: 19,964 confirmed cases, 13,095 recovered, 609 deaths.
  • CROATIA: 10,269 confirmed cases, 7,434 recovered, 186 deaths.
  • KOSOVO: 12,683 confirmed cases, 8,788 recovered, 488 deaths.
  • N. MACEDONIA: 14,341 confirmed cases, 603 deaths.
  • MONTENEGRO: 4,790 confirmed cases, 98 deaths.
  • SERBIA: 31,406 confirmed cases, 638 hospitalized, 713 deaths.
  • SLOVENIA: 2,883 confirmed cases, 133 deaths.

MONTENEGRIN ELECTION RESULTS: “With 98.55% of the votes counted, the opposition coalitions ‘For the Future of Montenegro,’ ‘Peace is our Nation,’ and ‘Black on White’ (multiethnic United Reform Action) have won 35.52%, 12.55% and 5.57% of the vote respectively, securing 41 seats in the 81-seat parliament. The parties in power until now had won 38 seats – Djukanovic’s DPS won 35.12% of the vote, the Social Democrats 4.09%, the Bosniak Party 3.81%, the Albanian Slate 1.61%)and the Albanian Coalition Unanimously 1.16%. Ranko Krivokapic, who dissented from Djukanovic’s party in 2016, won 3.14% of the vote with his SDP party in Sunday’s election, gaining two seats in the parliament.” (N1)

GOVERNING ON FOUR PRINCIPLES: The three coalitions met and agreed to govern Montenegro based on four principles:
1. The government will reasonably implement all international obligations.
2. The government will implement all necessary reforms to join the EU as soon as possible.
3. An expert government will be created regardless of politics, religion, or nationality, or other characteristics.
4. The government will be fully committed to respecting the Constitution and law enforcement, with amendments, supplements and revision of all discriminatory laws and bylaws, including the Law on Freedom of Religion.

KRIVAPVOIC ON COOPERATION WITH RUSSIA: The leader of the For the Future of Montenegro coalition, Zdravko Krivapovic, hopes the government can be formed within three weeks. When asked about the relationship with Russia, Krivapovic said, “We want to be on good terms with everyone, especially the great powers, and that will certainly be the strategy of our future work.”

OSCE/ODIHR ON ELECTIONS: The OSCE/ODIHR observation mission noted that DPS had dominated the media landscape ahead of the elections. OSCE PA Vice-President Margareta Cederfelt said, “This was a hard-fought campaign, but the ruling party benefited from an uneven playing field. COVID’s impact on the campaign and yesterday on election day was undeniably strong, but even this took a back seat to the major debates related to church and national identity.”

80% IS THE GOAL: PM of N. Macedonia Zoran Zaev insists the goal of the new government is to open 80% of EU chapters and close most of them. At a reception hosted by President Stevo Pendarovski, he said, :”We’ll open 80 percent of the negotiating chapters, and the aim is to close all of them in six years.”

OSMANI + REEKER: New FM of N. Macedonia Bujar Osmani spoke by phone with acting U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Philip Reeker. The two discussed N. Macedonia’s EU path which was encouraged by Reeker. 24 Vesti reports that Reeker accepted an invitation to visit N. Macedonia and will visit the country soon.

BLED STRATEGIC FORUM ROUNDUP:

  • Slovenian PM Janez Jansa had a busy day meeting with leaders attending the forum. He met with Croatian PM Andrej Plenkovic and discussed how the countries move forward in a Covid-19 world. Slovenia recently placed Croatia on the red list for entering the country. Plenkovic noted after the meeting, “I believe that together with the relevant authorities they too will approach the matter by differentiating between counties on the basis of the number of people infected.”
  • The EU’s Special Envoy for the Kosovo-Serbia Dialogue Miroslav Lajcak is optimistic a deal to normalize relations between the two sides can be reached in months. He said, “Let’s see how much time we need but I am speaking about months, I am not speaking about years.”
  • But Lajcak also noted the talks are very difficult for both sides. He said, “The expectations of the parties are very different. The atmosphere in which the talks are being held is not easy, but I think that the interlocutors are constructive and are working hard to continue the negotiation.”
  • And he expects the negotiations in the U.S. to focus solely on economics. He said, “We have not been consulted about the date or the content of the meeting; we have only been informed that the meeting will be held and will be strictly economic. It will not be part of the process, but only the meeting and I have no reason to doubt it.”
  • Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic sees joining it as the only option for his country. He said, “I think that Serbia belongs to Europe and that we need Europe, including everything that has been said today about European values and efficient and independent judiciary but also better lives for our citizens, including the peace and stability that will be guaranteed to our people.”
  • And noted he hoped the EU would change some attitude towards Serbia. He said, “I think we should do everything we can to increase the popularity o the EU and stress its contribution to the development of our economy and political system but on the other hand there are many things inside the EU which should be changed in terms of attitude towards Serbia.”
  • Vucic and Lajcak met on the sidelines of the Bled Strategic Forum.

KOSOVO DELEGATION ARRIVES IN DC: The Kosovo delegation led by PM Avdullah Hoti flew to the U.S. early yesterday for the Sept. 4 talks with Serbia at the White House. The team includes Hoti’s deputies Driton Selmanaj and Albulena Balaj-Halimaj, his Chief of Staff Ardita Dushi, FM Meliza Haradinaj-Stublla, Minister of Interior Selim Selimi, Minister of Infrastructure Arban Arbashi, and State Coordinator on the Dialouge Skender Hyseni.

VUCIC + MERKEL: Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic spoke on the phone with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday. Vucic felt encouraged by the discussion ahead of the meting in the U.S. on Sept. 4 and in Brussels on Sept. 7. He said, “She encouraged me before the trip to Washington and Brussels, and now, with all the energy and support I have from our people, after this conversation with Merkel. I am traveling to those two important places, Washington and Brussels, with an even stronger stance.”

ALLEGED WAR CRIMINAL FLEES BiH: Mirko Vrucinic, accused of committing war crimes in Sanski Most in 1992, has fled Bosnia and Herzegovina to Serbia. He was charged with crimes against humanity. The trial was nearing its end.

IN OTHER NEWS

OP-ED: “Why the West Must Remain Engaged in Bosnia” by Michael Purzycki in Young Professional in Foreign Policy

OP-ED: “Kosovo must not settle for a bad deal” by Jason Emert in Prishtina Insight

OP-ED: “Vucic’s Serbia is Waging Political War Against its Neighbours” by Jasmin Mujanovic in BIRN

ANALYSIS: “Montenegro’s Disjointed Opposition Faces Challenge in Forming Govt” by Samir Kajosevic in BIRN

ANALYSIS: “How Fake News Spreads: Mainstream Media Republish Suspect Sites’ Stories” by Mladen Obrenovic in BIRN

HUMAN INTEREST: “Nick Popovich’s Valpo-based global aircraft repo business has soared to great heights” by Joseph S. Pete in The Times of NW Indiana

SPORT: “Nemanja Matic reflects on rise from humble beginnings in Serbia to Man Utd star” by David Anderson in The Mirror (UK)

ENTERTAINMENT:Movie “Quo Vadis, Aida?” to have its Premiere at the 77th Venice Film Festival on September 3rd” in Sarajevo Times

TRAVEL: “The railroad line to Skopje airport becomes part of the new North Macedonia government’s program” in Meta.mk