WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN THE BALKANS TODAY

KOSOVO-SERBIA DIALOGUE:

  • U.S. President Trump mentioned Kosovo and Serbia at a rally. He said, “I’m sure it’s a Nobel Prize. We are stopping mass killings between Kosovo and Serbia. They have been killing each other for so many [years]. They are going to stop killing. I said ‘fellas, let’s get together.’ You know, they’ve been doing it for hundreds of years under different names.”
  • Trump’s Special Envoy to the Kosovo-Serbia Dialogue Richard Grenell noted, “What I think President Trump is saying is that he is committed to moving into economic normalisation for the two countries. We would not be here if it wasn’t for President Trump saying ‘Let’s do something different for the region.'” And added, “There is a perceived conflict, and the perceived conflict means that American businesses, American governments, European businesses, European governments get very frustrated that we can’t move beyond the typical political fights.”
  • CEO of the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation Adam Boehler signed a joint statement with Kosovo PM Avdullah Hoti. Boehler wrote on Twitter that the DFC “will work to build on the existing investment pipeline in #Kosovo to strengthen critical infrastructure such as roads and energy, technology, and more.” See the whole joint statement here.
  • Kosovo President Hashim Thaci awarded President Trump’s Special Envoy Richard Grenell with the Presidential Medal of Merits “for his exceptional contribution in achieving the economic normalization agreement between #Kosovo & #Serbia.”
  • Grenell noted in a press conference, “We don’t want empty words, we want to show the people of Kosovo that we stand with you and that we can move forward with economic development for the betterment of western civilization. While symbolism is important, it can’t pay your rent, it can’t feed your family, it doesn’t give you a lot of hope”
  • Other government officials on the trip include Deputy Administrator for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Bonnie Glick; President and Chairman of the Export-Import Bank of the United States (EXIM) Kimberly Reed; and other senior government officials from the U.S. Departments of Energy and Commerce are on the trip with Boehler.
  • The EU Special Representative for the Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue Miroslav Lajcak met with representatives from the C5 countries – Austria, Czechia, Hungary, Slovakia, and Slovenia – to discuss the progress in the dialogue.
  • U.S. Ambassador to Kosovo Richard Kosnett told Radio Free Europe, “What we do on the economic track is meant to complement and encourage the steps that will be undertaken on the political track. But I can’t tell you how long it will take until full political, political normalization between Kosovo and Serbia is reality.” And added, “When we talk about the economic development of Kosovo and Serbia, when we talk about strengthening economic cooperation in the region, of course there is a role in the EU in that, and it is something we talked to them about.”
  • Israeli Ambassador to Serbia Yahel Vilan confirmed that his country recognized Kosovo on September 4. He said, “Israel hasn’t signed anything in Washington; we haven’t been a part of that summit. An agreement between Kosovo’s Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti and the US has been signed. Our Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed the mutual recognition.”

STOLTENBERG RESPECTS SERBIA’S NEUTRALITY: “NATO fully respects Serbia’s military neutrality policy, and at the same time NATO and Serbia have been close partners for 14 years, whose partnership is based on close political dialogue and practical cooperation, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said in an interview with Kurir newspaper. Stoltenberg pointed out that Serbia and NATO, with the excellent work of the Military Liaison Office in Belgrade and cooperation with the authorities, have built close cooperation in a number of areas, such as civil protection in emergency situations, including floods and forest fires.” (European Western Balkans)

VUCIC ON UN: Serbian President Aleskandar Vucic sent in a video address for the 75th anniversary of the United Nations. He said, “Unfortunately, at the end of the 20th century, we in Serbia experienced unilateral measures and activities which undermined and cast doubts on the efficiency of multilateralism and the mechanisms of international cooperation, as well as international law itself. The temporary institutions in Pristina declared independence unilaterally, violating UN SC Resolution 1244 and seriously undermining the security of Serbia and the region as a whole.”

PENDAROVSKI ON MOC: President of N. Macedonia Stevo Pendarovski sent a letter to Patriarch Bartholomew to recognize the Macedonian Orthodox Church.

TURKOVIC IN AUSTRIA: Bosnia and Herzegovina’s FM Bisera Turkovic is on a five-day official visit to Austria. While addressing the 64th General Assembly of the IAEA, she said, “Due to the proposed nuclear waste in Trgovska Gora, in the neighboring state of Croatia, the lives of those living near the Una River are endangered. The location in Trgovska Gora is less than one kilometer from the border with BiH. Therefore, we are asking for the help of the European Union and the IAEA, in order to help our neighbor find a safe and suitable place for his nuclear waste.”

BESA PARL. GROUP: MPs from ethnic Albanian party BESA in N. Macedonia have left the parliamentary group with SDSM. The MPs will continue to support the coalition government.

CONGRATS!: Twenty-one year old Slovenian cyclist Tadej Pogacar won the Tour de France while compatriot Primoz Roglic came in second. After the victory, President Borut Pahor met with French counterpart Emmanuel Macron. The two interlocutors agreed to increase cooperation.

LAZY SUNDAYS: The Croatian government is preparing a bill to make Sundays nonworking days.

BUSTED: Kosovo police arrested thirty-five people including at least ten border police officers for illegal casinos that worked across the Kosovo-Serbia border.

IN OTHER NEWS

OP-ED: “BALKAN BLOG: Why politics must be tackled before the economy” by Clare Nuttall in BNE IntellinewsANALYSIS: “The art of the non-deal? Scepticism over Trump’s Balkan pact” in AFP

ANALYSIS: “Serbia’s Muslims fear new ethnic violence after Montenegro post-election attacks” by Milivoje Pantovic in Euronews

CULTURE: “Balkaravana 2020 cycling tour promotes peace, sustainable mobility in Western Balkans” in Balkan Green Energy News: “The Center for the Environment from Banja Luka, in cooperation with cycling promotion organizations from Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, and Albania, has organized a cycling tour of the four countries, called Balkaravana 2020, with the aim of strengthening and promoting intercultural dialogue, sustainable development, green mobility, and peace in the Western Balkan region. Balkaravana 2020, which ends on October 4, is also aimed at promoting a healthy lifestyle and sustainable mobility, according to a public invitation to take part in the tour. During the tour, the participants, aged between 18 and 30 years, are visiting a number of communities to get acquainted with their cultural and historical heritage, and meet local people.”

CULTURE: “International Cuisine In Zagreb: Pekinška Patka, international minimarket” by Marc Rowlands in Total Croatia News

SPORT: “Rakitić retires from Croatian national team” in Voice of Croatia

ENTERTAINMENT: “Will a new US TV series on the ‘Macedonian teens who helped elect” in Global Voices

TRAVEL: “Exploring Slovenia: Hiking a Gorgeous Ridge above Pokljuka” by Neja Fidler Pompe in Total Slovenia NEws