WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN THE BALKANS TODAY

CORONAVIRUS by the numbers:

  • BiH: 23,635 confirmed cases, 16,166 recovered, 705 deaths.
  • CROATIA: 13,598 confirmed cases, 11,151 recovered, 227 deaths.
  • KOSOVO: 14,692 confirmed cases, 11,585 recovered, 600 deaths.
  • MONTENEGRO: 6,712 confirmed cases, 120 deaths.
  • N. MACEDONIA: 15,827 confirmed cases, 652 deaths.
  • SERBIA: 32,437 confirmed cases, 391 hospitalized, 733 deaths.
  • SLOVENIA: 3,749 confirmed cases, 135 deaths.

SEN. JOHNSON (R-WI) CALLS FOR TRUMP TO WIN NOBEL PEACE PRIZE: Senator Ron Johnson called for U.S. President Donald Trump to win the Nobel Peace Prize after bringing leaders from Kosovo and Serbia together. He said, “It’s President Trump, his leadership, his brilliant negotiating strategy that brought those sides together to help bring stability to the Balkans.”

HUAWEI + SERBIA: Huawei opened the Innovations and Development Center in Belgrade in the presence of PM Ana Brnabic and Chinese Ambassador Chen Bo. Brnabic noted, “Large international companies have an immense role in the digital transformation of our economy, along with our educational system and local innovative and startup companies. Such partners are of key importance to us, and one of the best and biggest of them is certainly the Chinese company Huawei” and Bo said, “The digital industry in China plays a significant role in economic development. And now Serbia is in the process of digitalization development. Chinese companies are ready to share their technology and experience with Serbian partners. I am sure that such cooperation will be useful for both sides, Chinese and Serbian.”

On the point of 5G in the Washington document… Brnabic spoke with Huawei and Bo and concluded the point means open and transparent tenders must be respected. She said, “all the speculations about some points of the Washington agreement, but our delegation did not have an easy task. President Vucic managed to keep the door open with all partners without putting Serbia in an unenviable position to violate its regulations.” Serbian officials have highlighted that the “untrusted vendors” does not necessarily mean Chinese vendors. President Trump’s special envoy, Richard Grenell, noted that the documents signed by leaders in Kosovo and Serbia would bring them closer to Western values and norms.

ON ANOTHER POINT IN THE DOCUMENT: PM of N. Macedonia Zoran Zaev said he could meet with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic at the end of September or early October to discuss the Mini-Schengen Zone.

HOTI TO BRIEF PARLIAMENT: Kosovo PM Avdullah Hoti is set to brief deputies on Thursday about the Kosovo-Serbia Dialogue and draft laws discussed at the previous parliament session.

WALKER CONSULTS FOR THACI: The Walker Foundation, founded by Hasan Salihu and William Walker in 2017, will provide consultancy services for the Office of the President of Kosovo over a five month span (August-December 2020) to the tune of 7,000 euros per month. Walker was the head of the OSCE Verification Mission to Kosovo in 1999.

KOMSIC DEFENDS BOSNIANS IN RS: Bosnian Croat Member of the Presidency met with parents of Bosniak students in Liplje (near Zvornik) in Republika Srpska, BiH’s Serb-dominated entity, after language classes were changed from “Bosnian” to “Language of the Bosniak people.” The students have not started classes as a result. Komsic said, “These children are not to blame. We shouldn’t be using them to solve our problems. We have made a mistake toward the returnees. We often used their torment for political purposes. It’s no wonder that these people are disappointed and angry.”

DODIK CLIAMS BOSNIANS DON’T EXIST: Bosnian Serb Member of the Presidency Milorad Dodik replied to parents who claim discrimination by stating, “Imposing the name ‘Bosnian language’ is a continuation of a policy of assimilating everyone in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which we don’t agree to. As ‘Bosnians’ don’t exist as a national unit, neither does ‘Bosnian language’.”

RAMA + ERDOGAN: Albanian PM Edi Rama yesterday met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev at Erdogan’s summer house in Mamaris, Turkey. Rama discussed Covid-19, bilateral relations, and the situation in the Western Balkans with Erdogan. Meanwhile, he spoke to Aliyev about the tourism and energy sectors.

PLENKOVIC IN BiH: Croatian PM Andrej Plenkovic yesterday met with Bosnian Croat leader Dragan Covic (HDZ-BiH), outgoing Bishop of Mostar-Duvno Ratko Peric, and his successor Petar Palic in Mostar. Plenkovic reiterated support for Bosnia and Herzegovina. He said, “As before, we will strongly support Bosnia and Herzegovina, develop cooperation with all three constituent peoples, with all citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and be the country that supports Bosnia and Herzegovina on its way to the EU and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.” And added, “What is important to Croatia is that there is stability, that there is peace and that tension is reduced, and that trade flows are stabilized. In all this, we take into account the Croatian minority and Croats in Serbia. We are sorry that due to division between the two Croatian parties the electoral threshold in Montenegro was not passed to obtain a seat in the parliament, a representative of the Croatian ethnic minority.”

ZAEV ON VISIT TO GREECE: PM of N. Macedonia Zoran Zaev is off to Greece today for a two-day working visit. He is set to have a busy day tomorrow, meeting President Katerina Sakellaropoulou, a working dinner with PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis, and a meeting with opposition leader Alexis Tsipras at 7:30PM local time.

BULGARIAN DEFENSE MINISTER THREATENS TO BLOCK EU-N.MACEDONIA MEETING: Bulgarian Defense Minister Krasimir Karakachanov answered “Of course” to reporters who asked if Bulgaria would block N. Macedonia from the first inter-governmental conference, marking the start of the EU accession, over disagreements on the historical commission. Meanwhile, Bulgarian MEP Andrey Kovatchev warned, “The contemporary Macedonian identity and statehood cannot be built on denying everything that is Bulgarian, in line with the mythologies and lies from Tito’s time.”

SLOVENIA WON’T JOIN VISEGRAD FOUR: PM Janez Jansa told Austrian media, “We feel no need to say that we will always support a country or a group of countries within the EU. We always look at what is good for our citizens, who elected us” when asked about joining the Visegrad Four countries.

SLOVENIA’S PAHOR ON ELECTORAL REFORM: “President Borut Pahor has reiterated his concerns about a potential failure of parliament to implement an electoral reform as ordered by the Constitutional Court, saying that ‘from the moment of elections onwards, we will no longer be talking about coronavirus and other topics but only about whether we have a legal and legitimate leadership.’ ‘It is true that this will not be the end of the world, but it could perhaps be the beginning of the end of formal democracy in Slovenia,’ Pahor told the STA, feeling Slovenia would regress to the period before the ‘political spring’ that led to independence.” (Slovenia Times)

ELECTIONS CERTIFIED IN MONTENEGRO: The State Electoral Commission in Montenegro released the official results of the parliamentary elections – Democratic Party of Socialists: 30 seats, For the Future of Montenegro coalition: 27 seats, Peace is Our Nation coalition: 10 seats, Black and White coalition: 4 seats, and a multitude of parties received received between one and three seats.For the Future of Montenegro, Peace is Our Nation, and Black and White have agreed to form a government with a total of 41 seats in the 80 seat parliament. Check out what Black and White’s Dritan Abazovic told N1 here.

U.S. LOOKS FORWARD TO WORKING WITH NEW GOV’T: The U.S. Embassy in Podgorica released a statement praising Montenegro “for showing democratic maturity.” the OSCE and election observers impartiality, and welcomed the news of continued the Euro-Atlantic course. Ambassador Judy Rising Reinke said, This is a historic moment for Montenegro’s democracy. The U.S. government looks forward to partnering with the next government, constituted through the democratic process as a reflection of the people’s will. The United States will continue to be a friend, partner, and Ally of the citizens of Montenegro.”

A SPLIT IN DPS?: Unconfirmed reports in Montenegro citing unnamed sources say a founder of the Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) in Montenegro, Milicia Pejanovic Djurisic, will leave the party to form her own party after 30 years of DPS memberships.

HOTI + AMBASSADORS: Kosovo PM Avdullah Hoti held a video conference call with Ambassadors of Kosovo throughout the world. He “asked them to be a strong voice for Kosovo” since the country is at an “important stage of state building.”

KOSOVO ADOPTS INT’L DEFINITION OF ANTI-SEMITISM: Kosovo FM Meliza Haradinaj-Stublla proposed for Kosovo to adopt the International Holocaust Rememberance Alliance definition of anti-semitism in the government session on Monday.

IN OTHER NEWS

OP-ED: “Trump’s Balkan agreement does Israel more harm than good” by Arthur Koll in The Jerusalem Post

OP-ED: “After Trump’s Serbia-Kosovo Deal, it’s Over to Brussels” by Jeta Krasniqi in BIRN

OP-ED: “Montenegro Took Wrong Route in Tackling Pandemic Disinformation” by Dragan Koprivica in BIRN

OP-ED: “Repatriating ISIS Family Members: A North Macedonian Model?” in Just Security

REPORT: “Pushing on a String?: An evaluation of regional economic cooperation in the Western Balkans” in Bertlesmann Stiftung

ANALYSIS: “The Afghanistan Coalition of Montenegro” by Ljubomir Filipovic in Medium

ANALYSIS: “Can Montenegro Withdraw from NATO?” by Samir Kajosevic in BIRN

CULTURE: “PHOTOS: Blue Lake in Imotski completely dries up” in Croatia Week

CULTURE: “The Largest Vineyard In The World Can Be Found In Europe’s Smallest Country” by Katie Machado in The Travel

SPORT: “Tadej Pogacar: Behind cycling’s new sensation” in Cyclist

SPORT: “Roglic, Pogacar braced for Slovenian showdown on Tour finale” by Samuel Petrequin in AP News

SPORT: “Croatian teen Petra Marendić becomes European junior sailing champion” in Croatia Week