WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN THE BALKANS TODAY
KOHORST URGES CROATIA ON FIGHTER JETS: U.S. Ambassador to Croatia Robert Kohorst encouraged Croatia to purchase American made F-16 fighter jets. The U.S. is competing with bids from Sweden, France, and Italy.

COORDINATOR FOR CT IN SLOVENIA: State Department’s Coordinator for Counterterrorism Ambassador Nathan Sales yesterday met with Slovenian Minister of Finance Andrej Sircelj and other government officials to discuss “key areas of counterterrorism cooperation.” Meanwhile, Amb. Sales told news outlet Delo, “We can’t allow a safe haven in the financial system. We have to make sure that all countries in the region and across Europe are united in excluding illicit transactions and bad actors.”

OSMANI IN BRUSSELS: FM of N. Macedonia Bujar Osmani continued his visit to Brussels. He met with Commissioner for Neighborhood and Enlargement Oliver Varhelyi, Vice President of the European Commission in charge of Democracy and Demography Dubravka Suica, Standing Rapporteur for N. Macedonia Ilhan Kyuchyuk, and MEP Andreas Schieder and Andrey Kovatchev.
  • Commissioner Varhelyi tweeted the two discussed “the steps ahead on #EU path in view of green light for accession talks as well as preparations of upcoming Economic&Investment Plan for #WesternBalkans to boost economic recovery&convergence.”
  • FM Osmani added, “The 1st #IGC 🇲🇰start of #AN will be a clear signal of our European course for which we pledge to continue no matter the challenges ahead”
  • Meanwhile, Rapporteur Kyuchyuk tweeted, “I have expressed my readiness to work constructively for the country’s #EU future and I hope that the first inter-governmental conference will be convened by the end of the year. 🇪🇺🇲🇰”
  • And FM Osmani added they “discussed our European future, reiterating the importance of the #EU – #WB Sofia Summit during @EU2018BG, when the Union’s enlargement process was back as a priority on the🇪🇺agenda.”

OFF TO BRUSSELS: Members of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina – Bosniak Member Sefik Dzaferovic, Croat Member Zeljko Komsic, and Serb Member Milorad Dodik today will meet with European Parliament President David Maria Sassoli, European Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Commissioner Oliver Varhelyi, and Vice President of the European Commission and High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Joseph Borrell on the trip.

PM DESIGNATE IN SERBIA: Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic announced, “You will get a prime minister, if not in three, then in seven days.”

EC WORKING ON NEXT ROUND OF DIALOGUE: European Commission Spokesperson Peter Stano said, “everyday work is being done to enable a new meeting of the heads of negotiating teams or political leaders.” The latest round, scheduled for Sept. 28, was postponed due to concerns over Covid-19.

HOTI MEETS PRESEVO VALLEY LEADERS: After announcing the Office of the Prime Minister of Kosovo will establish an office for assistance in the Presevo Valley in Serbia, Kosovo PM Avdullah Hoti met with representatives of the ethnic Albanian-dominated area and committed to improve lives in “education, culture, economy and other eventual needs.”

PM PLENKOVIC ON BiH: Croatian PM Andrej Plenkovic urged leaders in BiH to review how the Croat presidency member is chosen. He said, “We think that the practice that has existed since 2006 is not good, that the Croats have their representative on the presidency chosen by another ethnic group. I made that clear to Izetbegovic and Covic yesterday.’

And added, “Respecting Bosnia and Herzegovina and its institutions, our view is that stakeholders in Bosnia and Herzegovina themselves, the institutions and political parties, should produce such an election law that will prevent the situation that exists today, that one constituent people feels that things are unfair.”

KOMSIC RESPONDS: Bosnian Croat Member of the Presidency Zeljko Komsic responded to PM Plenkovic – he said that Croatia should not interfere in the election process in Bosnia and Herzegovina and how the country amends electoral legislation.

BUT BiH-CROATIA RELATIONS DEEPEN: “The Minister of Communications and Transport of Bosnia and Herzegovina Vojin Mitrovic, at the invitation of the Minister of the Sea, Transport and Infrastructure of the Republic of Croatia Oleg Butkovic, paid a working visit to the Republic of Croatia on Tuesday.

Ministers Mitrovic and Butkovic signed the Agreement on Maintenance and Reconstruction of Road Bridges on the State Border, between the Council of Ministers of BiH and the Government of the Republic of Croatia.” (Sarajevo Times)

ARMENIA-AZERBAIJAN:

  • Serbia’s FM Ivica Dacic said on the TV show Cirilica, “The Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict can serve as a warning to us how little time is needed for a war to flare up again, and how much it is necessary to take into account our national interests and the stability of the region.”
  • He added Serbia is friendly to both countries and noted, “Our interest is to stop this conflict as soon as possible, but that is easy to say.”
  • And he blasted the Minsk Group calling it “political tourism.”
  • The Embassy of Azerbaijan in Serbia released a statement expecting support from Belgrade.
  • It says, “Bearing in mind that Azerbaijan has supported the Serbian position on Kosovo on the international scene since 2008, and invoking the constant mutual support to the Declaration on Friendly Relations and a Strategic Partnership between Azerbaijan and Serbia and the Joint Action Plan for a strategic partnership, the Azeri side expects the Serbian side to lend full support and make a statement on this issue.”
  • The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina warned its citizens against travel to Azerbaijan and those currently in country should immediately return home.
KLA WAR VETERANS’ DEPUTY LEADER IN THE HAGUE:  KLA War Veterans’ Organization’s deputy leader Nasim Haradinaj appeared in The Hague at the Kosovo Specialist Chambers (KSC) after being arrested on Friday. A KSC judge clarified his appearance is “not a trial, the suspect has not been charged yet and no indictment has been filed by the prosecution.” The War Veterans’ Organization has released classified KSC documents including witness names and locations. Haradinaj demanded release and proclaimed he does not recognize the court.

GRUEVSKI SENTENCED: Fugitive PM of N. Macedonia Nikola Gruevski has been sentenced to a year-and-a-half in prison for inciting a mob attack in 2013. Added to his two year sentence for the Tank affair, the former PM would serve three-and-a-half years in prison if he returned from Hungary.

KOSOVO-ALBANIA MEETING: The governments of Kosovo and Albania will meet on October 2 and are expected to sign 15 agreements including a Memorandum of Understanding on a digital 5G corridor.

CHINESE WIND FARM IN CROATIA: “In Senj, a small city on the Adriatic coast of western Croatia, locals are used to the sight of heavy-duty vehicles transporting supersized machines. In the Velebit Mountains a few kilometers away, Chinese and Croatian workers are constructing the country’s largest wind farm.In November 2017, China’s Norinco International signed an agreement with Croatia’s Energija Projekt — a company specially set up to run the 156 Megawatt (MW) Senj Wind Farm — on the purchase of a 76-percent stake in the project and obtained the right to construct and operate it for 25 years.

The project, which includes 39 wind turbines (four MW each) and supporting facilities, is expected to be completed in April 2021.” (Reve Winds)

SLOVENIAN TOURISM VOUCHERS: Due to the effect of Covid-19, Slovenia issued internal tourism vouchers. Around 113 million euro, a third of the total amount, has been spent by Slovenian citizens.

IN OTHER NEWS

ANALYSIS: “Who is Richard Grenell: The ‘creative disruptor’ at the heart of Trump’s Kosovo-Serbia deal” by Brownyn Jones in Kosovo 2.0

ANALYSIS: “‘Leaked files, organ removal and irrepressible anger’: What’s behind the Kosovo war crimes probe?” by Orlando Crowcroft in Euronews

ANALYSIS: “Never Going Home: Why Bosnia’s New Exodus is Worrying” by Danijel Kovacevic in BIRN

ANALYSIS: “Time Will Tell: Elections in Montenegro as a Mirror of Russian Policy in the Balkans” by Grigorij Meseznikov in Visegrad Insight

TRAVEL: “Bihac, a Bosnian city that was once even a Croatian capital (VIDEO)” in N1

TRAVEL: “How Will Slovenian Travel Decision Affect Croatian Tourism Sector?” by Lauren Simmonds in Total Croatia News

TRAVEL: “Do’s and Don’ts When Traveling for the First Time to Bosnia and Herzegovina” in The Sarajevo Times