WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN THE BALKANS TODAY

CORONAVIRUS by the numbers:

  • BiH: 24,211 confirmed cases, 16,990 recovered, 736 deaths.
  • CROATIA: 14,029 confirmed cases, 11,690 recovered, 236 deaths.
  • KOSOVO: 14,839 confirmed cases, 11,949 recovered, 604 deaths.
  • MONTENEGRO: 7,291 confirmed cases, 126 deaths.
  • N. MACEDONIA: 16,088 confirmed cases, 668 deaths.
  • SERBIA: 32,614 confirmed cases, 341 hospitalized, 736 deaths.
  • SLOVENIA: 3,954 confirmed cases, 135 deaths.

KOSOVO-SERBIA DIALOGUE:

  • EU Special Representative Miroslav Lajcak today will meet with the expert-level negotiators – Serbia’s Marko Djuric and Kosovo’s Skender Hyseni to discuss settlement of mutual financial claims & arrangements for non-majority community.
  • Serbia’s Djuric noted that the first item on the agenda for Serbia’s side is the Community of Serb Municipalities (CSM).
  • A press release from the Office of the President of Kosovo warns against the creation of the CSM. It says, “The discussion tomorrow in Brussels, on the subject of the Association, is the beginning of the installation of the Republika Srpska inside the territory of the Republic of Kosovo. Whereas, the discussion on Kosovo’s properties with Serbia is contrary to the Constitution and the laws of Kosovo, and is a violation of the sovereignty of our state.” It calls on the government to ban PM Hoti from “negotiating Kosovo’s internal affairs and topics that endanger the internal state order.”

N. MACEDONIA DELEGATION IN GREECE:

  • PM of N. Macedonia Zoran Zaev held meetings with counterpart Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou, and opposition leader Alexis Tsipras. Zaev emphasized N. Macedonia’s EU path, economic cooperation, and the response to Covid in the meetings.
  • FM of N. Macedonia Bujar Osmani met with counterpart Nikos Denidas. Osmani wrote on Twitter, “It’s not a coincidence that my first visit as a FM is to Greece. The positive 🇲🇰-🇬🇷bilateral relations are high on my agenda. Nurturing a constructive, 🇪🇺cooperation is crucial for the prosperity of the whole Region.”
  • Deputy PM for European Affairs Nikola Dimitrov met with Alternate Minister of Foreign Affairs
    Varvitsiotis Miltiadis who wrote on Twitter, “We are both committed in working together to facilitate the 🇪🇺enlargement process & to have North Macedonia marching through & concluding its accession negotiation.”Dimitrov responded, “Onwards and upwards my friend, dear @MVarvitsiotis. Thank you for the most productive meeting and your hospitality.”

DODIK IN CROATIA: Bosnian Serb Member of the Presidency Milorad Dodik on Wednesday met with Croatian PM Andrej Plenkovic and President Zoran Miloavic in a visit that was criticized by Bosniak Member and Chairman of the Presidency Sefik Dzaferovic.

  • Dzaferovic wrote on social media, “The official Zagreb accepted a private visit, ignoring Bosnia’s state institutions. It’s their choice, just like it’s their choice in the type of consequences such an action will have.”
  • Plenkovic downplayed the criticism and said, “We agreed that he should come to the government so that we can see what the situation is… bridges, roads, many issues which we must see to. And that’s it.”
  • Dodik echoed the message. He said ,”This was an opportunity to acquaint them with the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Republic of Srpska, to identify common problems that could be solved on the issue of infrastructure projects, to analyze the ways in which we have implemented projects so far. I think that our cooperation is taking place in the best possible way”
  • After meeting with Milanovic, Dodik noted, “It must be ensured that constitutional peoples have the full capacity of their rights as stated in the Constitution. This can contribute to the sustainability of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and it implies changes to the Election Law to protect constitutional peoples and their legitimate representatives…” He added that Serbs and Croats, “remain the most important peoples in this region who must find a model of cooperation in the future in order to keep the peace.”
  • Milanovic’s office released a statement on the visit. It reads, “The interest of the Republic of Croatia is a stable and functional Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as ensuring equal rights for Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina as equal and constitutional peoples. This is why Croatia can not remain passive and will not support initiatives that go in a direction of a one-sided revision of the Dayton Agreement which would engender peace and stability in Bosnia and Herzegovina and southeastern Europe.”

VON DER LEYEN’S SOTU: President of European Commission Ursula von der Leyen spoke about the Western Balkans in her State of the Union address to the European Parliament. She said, “rust is the foundation of a strong partnership, and Europe will always be ready to build strong partnerships with our closest neighbours. This starts with the Western Balkans.” And added, “The decision six months ago to open accession negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia was truly historical. Indeed, the future of the whole region is in the European Union. We share the same history, we share the same destiny.”

ELECTIONS IN MONTENEGRO: Outgoing Speaker of Parliament Ivan Brajovic called a constitutive session of parliament on September 23 after meeting with representatives of the electoral lists. Leader of the Black-White coalition Dritan Abazovic says it is natural for For the Future coalition’s leader, Zdravko Krivapovic, to be PM-designate and that he sees himself in parliament. Meanwhile, Krivapovic plans to repeal the Law on Religious Freedom and aims to “establish good relations with all countries of the world, including, of course, Russia.”

EP RAPPORTEUR ON SERBIA’S EU PROGRESS: EP Rapporteur for Serbia Vladimír Bilcík remained clear on Serbia’s accession process this year. He said, “That’s a crystal clear message to you (Belgrade)! Not a single chapter has been opened, the end of the story. I think it’s pretty clear.” He added that not forming a government since parliamentary elections in June remains an obstacle to opening.

KOSOVO FM ON VISIT TO THE NETHERLANDS: Kosovo FM Meliza Haradinaj-Stublla left Pristina for The Netherlands to meet with counterpart Stef Blok. They will sign unspecified bilateral agreements and Kosovo’s FM will press Blok on visa liberalization.

BOSNIA ARRESTS 9 ON SUSPECTED WAR CRIMES: “Authorities in Bosnia on Wednesday arrested nine former Bosnian Serb military officers and troops who are suspected in the killing of 44 civilians during the 1992-95 Bosnian War. So far, 11 people are suspected of killing the Bosniak civilians in September 1992 in the area of Sokolac, in southeastern Bosnia, the Bosnian prosecutor’s office said in a statement. It said the investigation was continuing. Of the 11 suspects, one is still at large and one is already in prison.” (AP News)

IN OTHER NEWS

OP-ED: “Bulgaria — and Borissov — have passed the point of no return” by Ambassador James W. Pardew in PoliticoOP-ED: “Trump’s gambit in the Balkans” by Nina Markovic Khaze and Perparim Xhaferi in The Interpreter

ANALYSIS: “Croatia to be Among First Countries to Introduce Digital Nomad Visa: Here’s What It Means” by Daniela Rogulj in Total Croatia News

CULTURE: “Letter from the Sharr Mountains: on Kosovo’s highest peak, shepherds are keeping ancient traditions alive” in The Calvert Journal

CULTURE: “Almost 50 Croatian indigenous wines introduced to US wine lovers” in Croatia Week

SPORT: “Roglic extends overall Tour lead; Lopez wins toughest stage” in AP News