WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN THE BALKANS TODAY

U.S. DELEGATION IN SERBIA:

  • After signing an agreement with the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC), President Aleksandar Vucic and PM Ana Brnabic hosted a dinner that included a band playing the likes of Sweet Home Alabama and Country Roads.
  • PM Brnabic highlighted the importance of the high-level delegation in an interview with Radio Television Serbia. She said, “I don’t know that we had such relationship if we don’t go back to President Woodrow Wilson’s time.” She added, “It’s now up to us to show how ready we are to have projects as soon as possible and what ideas our companies have.”
  • The Head of the DFC office in Belgrade will be Serb-American John Jovanovic who noted, “Colleagues from the six American agencies that were in the delegation from Washington were delighted with the first visit to Belgrade and the opportunities and potential of this region, both economically and socially. I share their opinion.”
  • Meanwhile, the Export-Import Bank of the U.S. (EXIM) wrote in a press release, “Export-Import Bank of the United States (EXIM) Chief of Staff David Fogel and Chief Banking Officer Steve Renna joined an interagency U.S. delegation, led by U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) CEO Adam Boehler, for a roundtable discussion with business leaders in Serbia hosted by U.S. Ambassador to Serbia Anthony Godfrey with the participation of the Serbian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Kosovo Chamber of Commerce.”
  • “During the discussion, Fogel and Renna underscored EXIM’s commitment to supporting economic development in the region, particularly through the export of U.S. goods and services to Serbia. EXIM works closely with DFC, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and other government agencies to support U.S. investment and economic development in the region through trade financing solutions.” (EXIM)

MONTENEGRO ANNOUNCES PRESIDENT OF PARLIAMENT: The leader of the Peace is Our Nation coalition, Aleksa Becic, was voted as President of Parliament with forty-five votes in favor, one against, and twenty-five blank ballots. In Becic’s address to MPs, he said, “It is an indescribable honor and privilege to be elected president of the highest legislative and representative house, and at the same time to be the first elected public official after the first democratic change of government in Montenegrin history.” While adding, “Those who did not vote for me know that I will fight for them even more, that my door is wide open to them. I will not attack, criticize or declare them opponents of the state. I want the opposition to have a better status than we had.”

HOTI MEETS VIRTUALLY WITH EU AMBASSADORS: Kosovo PM Avdullah Hoti yesterday held a virtual conversation with EU Ambassadors to Kosovo. Hoti thanked the ambassadors for their contributions to help fight Covid-19, briefed them on the process of the Kosovo-Serbia Dialogue that “will end in mutual recognition”, and “stressed the fact that visa liberalization would open a real opportunity for the citizens and businesses of Kosovo and would create new opportunities for the country’s economic development.”

MEANWHILE, FM HARADINAJ-STUBLLA held a virtual conversation Greek counterpart Nikos Dendias on the sidelines of the virtual 75th UNGA. FM Haradinaj-Stublla says her counterpart supports Kosovo’s visa liberalization within the EU. In addition, she said “With Minister Dendias we also discussed about the Washington Agreement, which paves the way to a final agreement of mutual recognition within the existing borders, and which respects the constitutional order and unitary character of the Republic of Kosovo”

N. MACEDONIA’S SECURITY COUNCIL MEETS: President Stevo Pendarovski called a meeting of the National Security Council includes permanent members of the council – Speaker of Parliament Talat Xhaferi, PM Zoran Zaev, Defense Minister Radmila Shekerinska, Interior Minister Oliver Spasovski, and Foreign Minister Bujar Osmani. In addition, Director General of the Intelligence Agency Erold Musliu, the Director of the National Security Agency Viktor Dimovski, the Director of the Operational-Technical Agency OTA, Zoran Angelovski and the Chief of Staff The Army of the Republic of Northern Macedonia, Lieutenant General Vasko Gjurcinovski joined the meeting that focused around the security situation in N. Macedonia after joining NATO.

DEFENSE PR TO NATO CENTER FOR FIGHTING FAKE NEWS: “The Defense Ministry of North Macedonia will turn its Regional Center for Public Relations (RSPR) into a regional NATO Center for Fighting Fake News and Disinformation. RSPR which is known under its acronym PARC (Public Affairs Regional Centre), since 2013 has been accredited by NATO as a partner center for education and training. ‘We shall specialize in the spirit of the concept of smart defense. The information and fake news, including the strategic communications and public relations will become security issues of the highest priority. We have the experience and knowledge that we can offer and upgrade,’ is written in the program of the new government.” (Meta.mk)

PENDAROVSKI ON GOCE DELCHEV: Meanwhile, President Pendarovski answered a journalist’s question about Goce Delchev, a historical figure disputed by Macedonians and Bulgarians. He said, “What seems to divide us, should unite us. I think he is a Macedonian revolutionary, who is one of the most deserving for the Macedonian state which became true, and which was realized true after 1944. However, the fact that they claim that he is a Bulgarian, that he fought for the Bulgarian cause, is indisputable to me. Everyone has the right to defend him. Why would that be a problem, not in terms of European integration, but generally as peoples and as citizens. I do not see a problem if you consider someone a hero to honor him and it does not have to be exclusive.”

WHAT ABOUT SERBIA’S GOV’T?: Member of the Presidency of the Serbian Progressive Party Zorana Mihajlovic urged Member of European Parliament and Rapporteur for Serbia Tanja Fajon to stop lecturing the party on forming a government. She said, “If the citizens of Serbia elected their representatives, the people who won the most votes form a government and that is done by respecting the laws of the country and deadlines, so why the lectures about what should be done by the people who were given a mandate by the citizens of Serbia.” But she remained optomistic about Serbia’s EU integration. She said, “I believe that Fajon, as an MEP and if she took a truly unbiased view of the situation in Serbia would have reason for optimism and patience while waiting for a new government which will, as its predecessor, work on links between Serbia and the region and Europe and work to bring Serbia closer to the European Union.”

BiH + NATO: Minister of Defense Sifet Podzic, two deputies, the Chief of Staff to the Armed Forces of BiH, and Commander of the NATO Headquarters in Sarajevo Brigadier General William Edwards visited Manjaca to monitor progress of the  NEL-1 Battalion Light Infantry Battle Group. Minister Podzic noted, “NATO soldiers are not participating in the exercise. One of the missions of the Armed Forces BiH is to participate in peacekeeping operations, led by NATO, the United Nations or the European Union. So far, BiH has trained 11 companies and some platoons of various specialties, which are ready to carry out such missions. For the next cycle of cooperation, in 2019, we declared a battalion of light infantry. Now this unit is being evaluated for the first time by NATO evaluators (so-called NEL-1). Next year, the level assessments of SEL-2 and NEL-2 are planned, so that in 2023 we have a trained battalion combat group of light infantry for peacekeeping missions.”

SLOVENIA’S BUDGET: “Prime Minister Janez Janša acknowledged Tuesday that the planned budget deficit for this year, at roughly EUR 4.2 billion, was high, but he told parliament the spending was prudent and positioned the Slovenian economy for a recovery.

“‘For probably the first time in the history of this country, the government can explain to within an euro what these funds have been and will be used for,’ he said at the outset of a two-day National Assembly debate on the supplementary budget for this year.”He said spending on coronavirus-related measures amounted to roughly EUR 1.6 billion up until the end of August. The biggest items were EUR 500 million for furloughed workers, roughly EUR 560 million in waived social security contributions, and EUR 150 million in income support and waiver of contributions for sole proprietors and farmers.” (Slovenia Times)

WHEN IT COMES TO DEFENSE… PM Jansa returned Defense Minister Ales Hojs’s letter of resignation that was given to him back in June when a motion of no confidence was levied against Hojs. After surviving the motion of no confidence over the weekend, Hojs said he would stay on as defense minister.

SPIRIC TO MONITOR BiH AGENCY FOR PREVENTION OF CORRUPTION: “Nikola Spiric, who is on the black list of the United States because of corruption, has been officially appointed as a member of the Commission for the Selection and Monitoring of the Work of the Agency for Prevention of Corruption and Coordination of the Fight against Corruption, Klix.ba news portal reports.

“At the 6th session of the House of Peoples, held on May 28, 2020, and at the 12th session of the House of Representatives, held on September 15, 2020, the Parliamentary Assembly of BiH passed a decision on appointing the Commission for Selection and Monitoring of the Agency for Prevention of Corruption and coordination of the fight against corruption, it is stated in the Official Gazette of BiH.”

“The decision entered into force on September 15, 2020, but has only now been published in the Official Gazette of BiH.” (Sarajevo Times)

IN OTHER NEWS

OP-ED: “Changes in the energy policy – A new framework for the economic development of Serbia” by Aleksandar Kovacevic in European Western BalkansANALYSIS: “The Gazivode/Ujmani issue and a part of the solution” in KosSev

ANALYSIS: “In Serbia, China’s Digital Silk Road Might Be in Trouble Very Soon” by Vuk Vuksanovic in The Diplomat

ANALYSIS: “Kosovo Opposition and EU Undermine Serbia-Kosovo Washington Deal” by Xhorxhina Bami in BIRN

CULTURE: “Europe House: A new place in Sarajevo to bring BiH citizens closer to the EU” in N1

SPORT: “President Bach in Slovenia” in Olympics.org: “IOC President Thomas Bach was in Slovenia on Monday, meeting athletes and Olympic hopefuls. At a canoe training facility in the capital, Ljubljana, he took part in a Q and A session with the athletes, who asked many questions about the COVID-19 crisis and preparations for the upcoming Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. The 40 athletes were from athletics, judo, taekwondo, canoe, sailing, handball and table tennis, including two medallists from the Olympic Games Rio 2016.”

ENTERTAINMENT: “Leonardo DiCaprio joins global appeal to protect Bosnian rivers” in N1

TRAVEL: “Western travel writers are hooked on Balkan war stories. Local voices could be the answer” by Alex Crevar in The Calvert Journal