WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN THE BALKANS TODAY
We hope everyone had a nice, long Labor Day Weekend and we are looking forward to catching you up on the latest in the Balkans!

  • The US State Department names Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Matthew Palmer as the Special Representative for the Western Balkans. 
  • His main goals are to restart the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue, the formation of the Bosnian government, and usher N. Macedonia into NATO. 
  • A delegation from Slovenia visited Pueblo, Colorado as guests of the National Guard. Ambassador Stanislav Vidovic accompanied the Slovenian Defense Minister Karl Erjavec and Chief of Defense General Alenka Ermenc, the only female head across NATO.
  • “Finland’s foreign minister said on Friday his EU colleagues were increasingly hopeful they could eventually move towards membership talks with North Macedonia and Albania, though he gave no timeline…”
  • Pekka Haavisto spoke after meeting his EU counterparts in Helsinki to discuss, among other issues, the membership ambitions of the two West Balkan countries which have been held up by delays and opposition from some states.” (Reuters)
  • The 4th Annual Bled Strategic Forum kicks off on Slovenia’s most famous lake. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu will keynote. The theme this year is (Re)sources of (In)stability. Other guests include UN General Assembly Espinosa GarcesEstonian President Kersti Kaljulaid, Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borell and Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto
  • In a conversation with Dave Lawler of Axios, outgoing Kosovo Foreign Minister Behgjet Pacolli said Russia is “of course” aiding Serbia’s derecognition campaign. Editor of Balkan Insider, Ryan Scherba, provided commentary for Axios. 
  • Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic in a TV interview said: “There are always foreign interests and they do not always want the strongest state of Serbia, especially if they strive for an independent Kosovo. They also have their own internal factors they use and continually work on weakening your strength and power so that you cannot protect the country…Aleksandar Vucic is the strongest point of resistance against an independent Kosovo without compromise.”
  • Bosnian Serb Presidency Milorad Dodik sided with Beijing over democracy protestors in Hong Kong stating, “fully understands and supports China in its efforts to maintain peace and stability in Hong Kong….I am convinced that China will be able to protect its interests and that the situation in Hong Kong will be normalized.”
  • Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic says Croatia should just condemn attacks against Serbs after Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic noted “not every incident that happens between Croatian citizens of different nationalities can be qualified as ethnically motivated violence.”
  • Grabar-Kitrovic will be awarded the 2019 Lifetime Achievement Award by the Fulbright Association.
  • “The Council of Public Prosecutors decided unanimously that all conditions are met to set in motion the procedure for the dismissal of the Special Public Prosecutor Katica Janeva, informed today when the session was over, the President of the Council of Public Prosecutors, Kole Shterjev.” (Meta)

  • Crime: An ethnic Serb was stabbed in Mitrovica near the Ibar River in what reports say is an ethnically motivated attack. The former boss of Agrokor Ivica Todoric is going back to court. Zagreb prosecutors just filed new charges for embezzling 1.25 million euros.

BEYOND THE POLITICS

  • Sport: Bosnia won’t extradite former head of NGK Dinamo Zagreb Zdravko Mamic to Croatia. He holds dual citizenship.