WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN THE BALKANS TODAY

  • US Ambassador to Serbia Kyle Scott and his team commemorated 9/11 by donating blood to the Serbian Red Cross.
  • The alleged US spy inside the Kemlin could have been extracted from Montenegro. The Telegraph writes: “Online investigators soon found a 2017 Russian media report that Oleg Smolenkov, identified as an employee of Mr Putin’s managerial affairs department, had gone missing with his wife Antonina and three children in the Balkan country of Montenegro in June of that year.
  • ‘Antonina Smolenkova’ and ‘Oleg Smokenkov,’ apparently a typo, bought a six-bedroom home near Washington DC in 2018.
  • If Mr Smolenkov was indeed the US agent in question, the Russian authorities appeared to have been blindsided by his exfiltration, as they began investigating whether he and his family had been murdered in Montenegro. “
  • Russian Ambassador to Serbia Aleksandr Botsan-Kharchenko called US DAS and Special Representative to the Western Balkans Matthew Palmer’sstatement on Russia wanting to destabilize the region as “depressing” and “”not in line with ordinary common sense”
  • Botsan-Kharchenko continued “By the way, Washington’s strategy to strengthen stability through unconstitutional strikes and interference in internal affairs is obvious and well-known.”
  • European Commission President Ursala von den Leyen announced her Commissioners. Former Mayor of Dubrovnik Dubravka Suica was named Vice-president for Democracy and Demography while Slovenia’s Janez Lenarčič has been appointed to the Crisis Managment portfolio.
  • Former Spanish Foreign Minister Josip Borrell takes over for Italian Federica Mogherini as Chief of Foreign Policy. Meanwhile, Hungary’s Laszlo Trocsanyi holds the portfolio for Neighborhood and Enlargement, taking over for Austria’s Johannes Hahn who moved over to Budget and Administration. 
  • Czech President Milos Zeman is visiting counterpart Aleksandar Vucic in Belgrade. He told Vucic “I like Serbia and Serbian people. And I dislike Kosovo,” despite Czechia recognizing Kosovo’s independence.
  • Bosnian Presidency Chairman Zeljko Komsicthanked the United Kingdom for continued support for its NATO path. While addressing security studies students and Kings College and said, “We thank the UK for the efforts that followed after the signing of the Dayton Peace Agreement. Those efforts in preserving the peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina were not fruitless. Thanks to British soldiers who were on a peaceful mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina, our country is stable today. But, we want it to be even more stable. That’s why we appreciate the support that the UK gives to Bosnia and Herzegovina on the path of its NATO integration.” 
  • Serbia and Croatia are at odds after Serbian military were barred from entering Croatia for not notifying the Foreign Ministry of their trip. On Monday, the Serbian Ambassador to Croatia refused to accept Croatia’s protest note. Then on Tuesday, Croatia refused to accept Serbia’s demarche on the incident. 
  • Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic attended a WWII liberation gathering in Luxembourg on Tuesday. On the indicent with Croaita, she noted, “I don’t want to get involved further in the notes because I think that they are taking us into an endless loop in which we are loosing the clear image of what happened. What did happen was that our delegation, our young cadets, were going to pay hommage to the victims in Jasenovac, one of the places of greatest suffering in World War 2 in Europe.”
  • Slovenian Prime Minister Marjan Sarec is spending two days in Moscow as a guest of his counterpart Dmitry Medvedev. The two sides plan to discuss “the entire range of bilateral cooperation in trade, the economy, energy, investment and high-tech sectors, as well as cultural and humanitarian collaboration.” Sarec stated, “The Russian market is very interesting for us. And certainly, we will seek to find new opportunities for cooperation.”
  • Sarec also added, “Sanctions are never good, they always hurt someone and when time comes to cancel them, Slovenia will certainly welcome this. Russia also understands very well that Slovenia is part of the EU and NATO and must meet its commitments,” according to Russian state-run outlet TASS.
  • Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic met EU ambassadors on Tuesday to lay out Croatia’s goals for the Council of the Presidency of the EU in the first half of 2020. See what they are here.
  • Prime Minister of N. Macedonia Zoran Zaev and opposition leader Hristijan Mickosk met for three hours on Tuesday. The only  conclusion: the Special Prosecutor’s Office is a “dead institution.” They are still deadlocked on a new public prosecution law.
  • Montenegrin Foreign Minister Srdjan Darmanovic told Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu that their nations relationship is strengthened by NATO membership. Cavusoglu called the meeting “s a continuation of intense dialogue, resulting in a high degree of mutual understanding and cooperation,” and their main focus is economic and trade relations after Darmanovic’s first official visit to Turkey.
  • Foreign Minister of N. Macedonia Nikola Dimitrov met with former EU Neighborhood and Enlargement Chief Johannes Hahn in Brussels. Hahn expects N. Macedonia to be given “the green light” to open EU accession talks in October.
  • Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic gave diplomatic passports to Serbia’s women’s volleyball team after winning the European Championship in Turkey.
  • “Opening a conference at the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism (ICT) in Tel Aviv on Tuesday, Croatia’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior Davor Božinović said that terrorism was one of the greatest security threats and that there were not many indications that the situation would change any time soon.” (Total Croatia News)
  • “The head of the opposition Dveri Movement Bosko Obradovic said on Tuesday he had filed criminal charges against Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic who he said violated the Penal Code in his meeting with the US senators last week, N1 reported.
  • Obradovic specified that Vucic had breached the Articles 305, 306, 307 and 320 of the country’s Penal Code in respect to Kosovo.
  • He added that in the meeting with senators Ron Johnson and Chris Murphy, Vucic showed that ‘the current regime policy endangers the territorial integrity of Serbia, which constitutes a crime under the article 307 of the Penal Code.’” (N1)
  • Migrants: Police found 46 migrants in a van and the forest in Slovenia. The majority of them were from Pakistan, Afghanistan, and India.
  • Over 500 miners protested in Sarajevo. The Zenica coal mine stopped operations on Sept. 7th and the miners are threatening a nationwide strike on Sept. 13th. Already, 2,800 miners have ceased work demanding back pay.

BEYOND THE POLITICS

  • Sport: UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifying Results from Tuesday: : England beats. Kosovo 5-3. Montenegro loses to Czechia 3-0. Serbia beats Luxembourg 3-1. . Albania tops. Iceland 4-2.
  • Sport: Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic and her partner were in attendance for Serbia’s victory in Luxembourg. They watched with the match with Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel and his husband.
  • Sport: Argentina upset Serbia 97-87 to reach the semi-finals of the FIBA World Cup in China. Argentina will face the winner of USA vs. France.