WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN THE BALKANS TODAY

CORONAVIRUS by the numbers:

  • BiH: 23,929 confirmed cases, 16,701 recovered, 725 deaths.
  • CROATIA: 13,749 confirmed cases, 11,412 recovered, 230 deaths.
  • KOSOVO: 14,763 confirmed cases, 11,784 recovered, 601 deaths.
  • MONTENEGRO: 6,900 confirmed cases, 121 deaths.
  • N. MACEDONIA: 15,925 confirmed cases, 661 deaths.
  • SERBIA: 32,4511 confirmed cases, 365 hospitalized, 735 deaths.
  • SLOVENIA: 3,831 confirmed cases, 135 deaths.

KOSOVO-SERBIA DIALOGUE:

  • CEO of the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) Adam Boehler spoke with U.S. Ambassador to Serbia Anthony Godfrey via video about the DFC’s high-level visit to Belgrade next week and the opening of the DFC office.
  • The Export-Import Bank of the United States (EXIM) President and Chairperson Kimberely A. Reed and DFC CEO Boehler signed Letters of Interest with Serbia and Kosovo for the construction of the Peace Highway between Nis, Serbia and Pristina, Kosovo.
  • Chairperson Reed noted, “The Export-Import Bank of the United States is committed to supporting projects that both advance economic development and employment in the region, and support American exports and workers. I look forward to working with the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation, and the rest of my U.S. interagency colleagues, toward this goal.”
  • Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) writes on Twitter, “I applaud @avucic‘s move to designate Hezbollah a terror group. Hezbollah’s an Iran-controlled terrorist organization responsible for killing hundreds of Americans, I’m grateful for Serbia’s leadership in taking steps to minimize Hezbollah’s ability to operate in Europe.”
  • Kosovo President Hashim Thaci told reporters, “President Trump put an effort for that to happen. He has done what others haven’t in 20 years. After it’s been seen that the economic normalisation can happen in Washington, I’m convinced the political normalisation can happen as well, and mutual recognition can only happen in Washington. Other attempts are a waste of time”
  • Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic yesterday met with Palestinian Ambassador Mohammed Nahab. According to a press release from the president’s office, Vucic said, “Serbia is committed to improving relations with both Israel and Palestine and strives towards a sustainable solution based on international public law norms established at the UN, which would bring peace, stability and progress to all.” The press release also writes, “President Vucic thanked the Palestinian leadership for its political support to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Serbia and its principled position on non-recognition of the unilaterally declared independence of so-called Kosovo.”
  • Kosovo FM Meliza Haradinaj-Stublla accuses Belgrade of breaching point 15 of the document it signed, highlighting Serbia “will refrain from formally or informally requesting any nation or International Organization to not recognize Kosovo.”

MINORITIES AWAIT INVITATION TO NEW MONTENEGRIN GOV’T: Albanian and Bosniak political parties are awaiting an invitation for talks with the three coalitions that have agreed to form the new government in Montenegro.

  • Leader of the Albanian coalition, The Time is Now, Nik Gjeloshaj said, We must ensure that minorities are comfortable with the new policies in Montenegro. There is still a lack of confidence in the political process – especially with parties representing Serbs in Montenegro.” And added, “Although they have declared their intention to invite and involve minority parties in talks on forming a new government, we are still awaiting official invitations so that we can prepare for the upcoming negotiations.”
  • Meanwhile, Bosniak leader Ervin Ibrahimovic said, “Being in power is an advantage, because you can control procedures at the state level and influence all the processes that concern our citizens…But if we can’t achieve something that respects Bosniaks’ unique identity, we will exert a correcting influence on the new government from opposition.”

N. MACEDONIA DELEGATION IN GREECE: PM Zoran Zaev, FM Bujar Osmani, and Deputy PMs Nikola Dimitrov and Fatmir Bytyqi, are on a working visit to Greece to attend a conference held by The Economist. FM Osmani will hold a bilateral meeting with Greek counterpart Nikos Dendias while PM Zaev will meet with Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou, PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis, and opposition leader Alexis Tsipras.

SERBIA MARKS NEW HOLIDAY: Serbia on Tuesday marked the Day of Serb Unity, Freedom and the National Flag for the first time. The event is being celebrated by Serbs in Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and across the world. President Aleksandar Vucic noted, “Today, we celebrate unity and freedom. Today we celebrate the breakthrough of the Thessaloniki front (in World War I). And among those fighters, there were more than 10 percent of volunteers from Herzegovina, Krajina, Lika, Dalmatia. That is why it is very important that when we face great challenges, regardless of our economic successes, we must be united. To be smart and to fight for the freedom of the Serbian people by political means.”

DJURIC TO WASHINGTON?: Local media in Serbia is reporting that Serbia’s Director of the Office for Kosovo and Metohija Marko Djuric is being tapped as the new Ambassador of Serbia to the United States. Ambassador Djerdj Matkovic’s mandate ended and the post remains vacant.

BRONZE STATUE OF MELANIA: After a wooden statue of First Lady Melania Trump in July, architects began working on a new bronze statue of the Slovenian native. The statue was unveiled near her hometown, Sevnica.

PELJESAC BRIDGE UPDATE: A ship departed Nanjing, China with 3,840 tons of material for the Pljesac Bridge in Croatia. The materials are expected to arrive in Croatia on October 5.

SPEAKING OF CROATIA AND CHINA…: “A video conference was held at the headquarters of the Croatian Olympic Committee (HOO) on Tuesday reaffirming that Croatia and China continue to cooperate in sports. The Croatian Table Tennis Federation and the Chinese Embassy in Croatia are at the forefront of the increased cooperation, announced the HOO. The cooperation, established in 2018, includes sponsorship and exchanges of the coaching staff, which is very important for Croatian table tennis because it has the world’s biggest table tennis power as its partner, the HOO said.” (Voice of Croatia)

AND OVER IN SERBIA…: The local authorities in Bor have filed criminal charges against the managers of Zjin, a Chinese company that runs the local copper mine and smelting plant, for high levels of pollution.

BOSNIAN SERB WAR CRIMINAL DIES: Bosnian Serb war criminal Momcilo Krajisnik died on Tuesday of complications related to Covid-19. Krajsnik was released after serving two-thirds of his twenty year sentence for crimes against humanity.

IN OTHER NEWS

OP-ED: “What Montenegro’s future government means for the Western Balkans” by Majda Ruge and Sinisa Vukvoic in The European Council on Foreign Relations

OP-ED: “Diplomacy is not ‘The Apprentice’. Serbia-Kosovo issue requires A long-term commitment” by Leon Hartwell in New Eastern Europe

OP-ED: “A new era for Kosovo-Israel relations” by Akri Cipa in The Times of Israel

ANALYSIS: “The mirage of Trump’s ‘peace’ deals” by Ishaan Tharoor in The Washington Post

ANALYSIS: “Solid consensus against Jerusalem embassy moves” by Yossi Mekelberg in Arab News

ANALYSIS: “Montenegro announced it was ‘corona-free’ in May. The announcement has not aged well” by Marek Grzegorczyk in Emerging Europe

CULTURE: “Montenegro – A Center of Vine Diversity in Europe” in Total Montenegro News

SPORT: Some soccer transfer news! FC Barcelona profiled new arrivaland Bosnian midfielder Miralem Pjanic. Kosovo international Vedat Muriqi officially signs with Lazio (Italy) from Fenerbace (Turkey). Serbian international Branislav Ivanovic is back in England – he signed with newly promoted West Bromwich Albion under Croatian manager Slaven Bilic after three years playing for Zenit Saint Petersburg in Russia.