WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN THE BALKANS TODAY
KOSOVO-SERBIA DIALOGUE:
  • CEO of the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) Adam Boehler and President Trump’s Special Envoy to the Kosovo-Serbia Dialogue Richard Grenell led a high level delegation to Belgrade to open the DFC office. They met with President Aleksandar Vucic and PM Ana Brnabic on the trip.
  • At a press conference, Vucic noted there has not been an agreement like the one signed in Washington since 1881. He added, “Wherever the DFC is, there is a prosperous future, and this is a great signal for such a country and such a region. We are proud that their office is opening in Belgrade. We thank them for giving attention to our region and our beautiful Serbia. I am sure that we can achieve great results with our American friends.” And continued, “We also discussed all other important issues. We will work fast to launch commercial flights. It is important to take care of the prosperity of our country, to take care of our people, this is a good job for all people who live together with us. We will build roads and railways. This creates a better life for people, a better economy, everything we dreamed of.”
  • At the same press conference, Grenell noted, “Not only to deal with words and political symbolism but to work for the benefit of the people. I want to tell the people of Serbia to hold us accountable, not only regarding the Washington agreement but also for the three previous agreements. We are not just putting words on paper, that is pointless. Symbolism is important, but it does not put food on the table. We want to turn these promises into real jobs. We ask the people of Serbia to hold us accountable. I had to work hard, to go through many problems on both sides. We are not asking Serbia to agree with the United States on everything.”
  • PM Brnabic thanked Boehler and Grenell “for supporting Serbia and the entire region. This is an important step for strengthening the economy and providing a bright future for all citizens.”
  • The DFC wrote on Twitter that Boehler would be working with Brnabic, Vucic, “and U.S. partners to advance DFC’s commitment to supporting economic growth and development through private sector investment.”
  • Meanwhile, N1 writes, “The September 4 Washington agreement marks a milestone by turning the focus from politics toward the economic development and opening new jobs which contribute to the regional stability, the US President Donald Trump’s special envoy for the Belgrade – Pristina dialogue Richard Grenell, the US ambassador to Serbia Antony Godfrey, the US International Finance Corporation (DFC) executive director Adam Bohler and the heads of Serbia and Kosovo chambers of commerce Marko Cadez and Berat Rukiqi agree in Belgrade on Tuesday.”
  • The EU’s Special Representative to the says the EU remains focused on the dialogue. He wrote on Twitter, “Today, I continued yesterday’s discussions with the Foreign Minister of 🇫🇮and the State Secretary for European Affairs of 🇨🇿. The last 2️⃣days were a clear sign that 🇪🇺is very interested in the Western Balkan and strongly supports the 🇪🇺-facilitated Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue.”
  • U.S. Ambassador to Kosovo Philip Kosnett gave an extensive interview to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty in Kosovo on the dialogue and the U.S. Administration’s approach to the Kosovo-Serbia issue. He said the dialogue “will culminate in the full normalization of relations” between the two. But President Trump “wants to focus primarily on the economic aspect.Efforts to resolve all political issues have been going on for years, with no significant progress.”
  • When it comes to the EU vs. U.S. role in the dialogue, Kosnett said there was a “discrepancy between what is put on the agenda” and the U.S. wants to focus on what’s “achievable” and not just “process, rules, and protocols.”
  • He declined to comment on Serbia’s continued relationship with China’s Huawei, but noted he welcomed Kosovo’s commitment to not partnering with Huawei.
  • Read or watch the full interview HERE.
ADDRESSING THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY:
  • Chairman of the Bosnian Presidency Sefik Dzaferovic slammed UN inaction during the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina in a video message. He noted, “Bosnia and Herzegovina has had first-hand experience with just that, because the UN could have and must have had to prevent the genocide in the UN safe zone of Srebrenica and Zepa. The mistakes made by the UN were also acknowledged. In the future, the UN must continue to strive for the preservation of peace and international security, as its fundamental task”
  • Croatian PM Andrej Plenkovic addressed the UNGA with a different message – bringing the UN into the 21st century which was sent by video message – how appropriate. Plenkovic said, “Today we live in a much different world than 75 years ago. The technological revolution changed and improved our lives beyond comparison. Yet the scourge that plagued the world in the autumn of 1945, the hunger and poverty, the disease and refugees, still burdens parts of our planet.” He added, “We must make the United Nations fit for the 21st century. The revitalization of the United Nations’s work has to go beyond the General Assembly. Reform of the Security Council is long overdue. Our historical anniversary should also be an occasion for revisiting the UN Charter to meet the needs and realities of the new era.”
  • President of N. Macedonia Stevo Pendarovski worries about UN members reaching the Agenda 2030 goals. He said, “Due to the numerous obstacles in its work, there are still tensions and conflicts in the world, millions of refugees and migrants, uncontrolled exploitation of nature and violations of human dignity. Old acute problems such as global terrorism, transnational organized crime, and digital divide have been added to the old ones. This year, the situation is further complicated by the Covid-19 pandemic. In addition to the enormous suffering it causes, the pandemic exposes the weaknesses of our international order and the systemic inequalities of our world. We have only ten years left to realize the Agenda 2030 and the Paris Climate Agreement. To achieve the Sustainable Development Goals we must simultaneously mitigate the economic and social consequences of the pandemic.”
BUT BACK IN ZAGREB…: PM Plenkovic focused on having the legal framework and fiscal framework for Croatia to grow its economy and keep it stable. He said, “That is essential to have a stimulating business environment, production, investments and employment.” Read more about Croatia’s recent economics HERE.FORMING A GOV’T IN MONTENEGRO: “The first problem in negotiations among Montenegrin winning coalition occurred on Monday, after an unsuccessful meeting between the leaders of the Democratic Front (DF) and the head of the Civil Movement Ura, according to the Podgorica Pobjeda daily, considered a pro-regime newspaper Tuesday’s edition. The DF leaders Andrija Mandic and Milan Knezevic could not make Ura’s Dritan Abazovic say who he did not want in a new cabinet from the opposition coalition parties and what his stand was about the abolishment of the disputed Law on Religious Freedom, Pobjeda reported.” (N1)

but local media writes, Abazovic, Mandic, and Knezovic also met with Metropolitan bishop of Montenegro and the Littoral Amfilohije and leader of For the Future of Montenegro coalition leader Zdravko Krivapovic. There will be a constitutive session in government today.

DJUKANOVIC PRAISES DEMOCRACY: As the leaders of coalitions are meeting, President of Montenegro Milo Djukanovic yesterday praised the democratic process in his country. He said,  “The democratic maturity that Montenegro showed in the elections was built over the years through numerous successfully overcome challenges” and added on the EU accession process, “The new tones in the Brussels institutions are pleasing, especially in terms of the importance of strengthening the EU’s geopolitical position and the Western Balkans’s assistance in reforms and Europeanization achieved and announced so far.”

JANSA TO SPEED UP HEALTHCARE WAIT TIME: “PM Janez Janša said the government will discuss the fifth omnibus bill bringing anti-coronavirus measures this week and the bill will also bring funds to cut waiting time in healthcare. The bill will moreover feature measures designed to prevent the spring scenario, when practically all non-urgent medical services were suspended.” (The Slovenia Times)

DIMITROV IN BRUSSELS: Deputy PM for European Affairs yesterday met with the EU Commissioner for Neighborhood and Enlargement Olivier Varhelyi, Director for Western Balkans at the European Commission’s s Directorate General for European Neighborhood Policy & Enlargement Negotiations Genoveva Ruiz Calavera, and Minister of State for Europe at the German Federal Foreign Office Michael Roth.

What they saying on Twitter.

  • Varhelyi tweeted they had the chance to “discuss steps ahead for #NorthMacedonia on #EU path in view of green light for accession talks, reforms & preparation of upcoming Economic&Investment Plan for #WesternBalkans that will boost economic recovery.”
  • And Dimitrov responded, “We will do everything on our part to seize this historic opportunity, use the accession talks as a tool to bring European standards at home & make the implementation of the upcoming economic plan an absolute priority.”
  • Meanwhile, Ruiz Calavera noted, d”Pleasure to meet DPM @Dimitrov_Nikola & discuss our common objective to start accession negotiations. We count on his leadership to continue deliver on 🇪🇺reforms, maximise benefits of our financial assistance for 🇲🇰citizens &further strengthen good neighbourly relations!”
  • Dimitrov wrote about meeting Roth, “Started my day in Brussels meeting my great friend @MiRo_SPD who chairs the General Affairs Council today. We discussed our shared goal to start the EU accession talks with North Macedonia under the @EU2020DE. Thank you for your leadership liebe Michael!”

HAGUE FILES PUBLISHED ON ALBANIAN TV: Documents related to the cases of Kosovo President Hashim Thaci and former Speaker of Parliament Kadri Veseli, among others, have been published by Albania’s Top Channel.

RADONCIC WELCOMES U.S. INFLUENCE: Alliance for a Better Future of BiH, Fahrudin Radoncic welcomed U.S. influence in neighboring Serbia when commenting on the recent documents signed in Washington. He said, “It is a great thing that President Vucic went there, made a big agreement concerning them and Kosovo. When we have US influence on Belgrade’s policy, we as BiH and Bosniaks are much calmer. We should support the development of Serbia, the construction of highways and, if it is already being built, it is better to build with American money and interest than with Russian or Chinese money. In that sense, I think that it is a very good thing and that Vucic did a great job and that he should be congratulated on being accepted in the White House and for doing a eat stabilizing regional position.”

SERBIA TO OPEN CONSULATE: Serbian Ambassador to Montenegro Vladimir Bozovic visited Berane where a new consulate general will open. On the working visit, Amb. Bozovic noted, “When Serbia achieves good results in Berane, it is celebrated and it rejoices. We also had the opportunity to discuss the problems of internally displaced persons from Kosovo and Metohija, which is a confirmation that even when Serbia is having a hard time, Berane has opened its doors.”
N. MACEDONIA + COVID: Health Minister Venko Filipce announced the government will mandate a mandatory mask policy in open spaces.
IN OTHER NEWS
OP-ED: “Bosnian Serb Leader’s Croatia Visit Highlights Region’s Shifting Geopolitics” by Srecko Latal in Balkan InsightOP-ED: “Russia’s New Cold War in the Western Balkans” by Edina Becirevic in The Institute for War & Peace Reporting

ANALYSIS: “Western Balkans: The West meets East with its values and interests” by Hannes Swoboda in European Western Balkans

ANALYSIS: “Serbia’s 5G deal with Washington: The art of muddling through” by Majda Ruge and Stefan Vladisavljev in European Council on Foreign Relations

CULTURE: “Decanter World Wine Awards 2020: Croatia increases medal haul” in Croatia Week

SPORT: “Celebrations Over Slovenia’s Double Win at Tour de France Continue (Videos)” in Total Slovenia News

TRAVEL: “Discovering Montenegro: Prokletije and Hridsko Lake” by Antonela Stjepcevic in Total Montenegro News

TRAVEL: “Embracing the Great Outdoors: a New Angle for Zagreb Tourism” by Paul Bradbury in Total Croatia News

TRAVEL: “Croatia launches new social media tourism campaign” in Breaking Travel News