WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN THE BALKANS TODAY

  • A US delegation consisting of Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), John Barrasso (R-WY)Congressmen William Timmons (R-SC,4) and Jeff Duncan (R-SC,3); and Cindy McCain, wife of late Senator John McCain (R-AZ), continuedtheir European trip in Croatia where they met with President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic. They discussed the Double Tax Treaty between the 2 countries and creating a stronger connection between Croatian-Americans and their homeland, according to the Croatian President.
  • Meanwhile, Senators Ron Johnson (R-WI) and Chris Smith (D-CT) continued their trip by meeting Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic on Friday. They reiterated there is bipartisan support for the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue. Meanwhile, Vucic said there can not be a solution without a compromise.
  • Deputy Assistant Secretary of State and Special Representative for the Western Balkans Matthew Palmer will meet Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic. A press release will follow the talks.
  • Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik called on the NATO officials to dismiss the decision on approving the Membership Action Plan (MAP) for Bosnia and Herzegovina, and avoid being the main reason why the state institutions in this country do not function.
  • ‘We never said that there should be no cooperation with NATO. We have a certain shape of cooperation, we understand what that huge military integration means and we’re ready to cooperate at the same level that Serbia cooperates. Prejudging a membership is absolutely something that is imposed,’ he stressed.” (N1)
  • Dodik spoke out in support of Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea, but was rebuked by Bosnian Presidency Chairman Zeljko Komsic who reminded Dodik that Bosnia’s official stance is that Crimea is a part of Ukraine after Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs sent a letter of protest to the Presidency. 
  • Eleven Serbian military personnel were denied entry into Croatia. Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic on the incident: “This morning, around 6.30, Croatian police stopped 11 Serbian army personnel from entering Croatia at the Bajakovo border crossing. Their visit was not announced or agreed and their aim was to visit Jasenovac in Serbian army uniforms. Their attempted visit obviously was not of a commemorative nature, as it should have been, to pay tribute to the victims (of the WWII Jasenovac concentration camp), but was obviously planned as an act of provocation with the aim of causing an incident.”
  • French President Emmanuel Macron has apologized to Albania after their Euro 2020 qualifying match. France played the national anthem to Andorra and then apologized to Armenia. 
  • The Slovenian government led by Major General Alenka Ermenc will host defense chiefs and over 400 participants this week from across NATO. Discussions will occur at the Grand Hotel Union in Ljubljana.
  • In Zagreb, approximately 1,500 teachers from around Croatia protested. They are demanding a 6% raise.
  • “Serbia has agreed to buy 34.58% of Komercijalna Banka from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) in preparation for a planned privatization.
  • Serbia wants to increase its stake in the country’s second-biggest lender to be ready for its privatization this month under a 30-month deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).” (Reuters)
  • Porsche invested heavily in Zagreb-based Rimac. The electric vehicle company employs over 600 and was founded by Mate Rimac when he was 21.
  • Crime: Eight people from Czechia were arrested for planning to bring a drone with a pro-Serbia message during the Kosovo-Czechia soccer match. Former Kosovo Members of Parliament Shkumbin Demaliaj and Milaim Zeka were arrested for intimidating state prosecutors.

BEYOND THE POLITICS

  • Podcast: “Doctor Fake News“: “Fake news pays. Medical student Elena ran out of money, so she joined her friends in Veles, North Macedonia, writing fake stories for cash. Hosted by Academy Award-winning documentary film-maker Asif Kapadia (Amy, Senna, Diego Maradona), this is the first episode in a new five-part series from BBC World Service in collaboration with Robert Redford’s Sundance Institute. Detours takes us off the main roads of our lives, following people who didn’t end up where they expected.”
  • Crazy News of the Day: An unexploded 500 kg bomb which was dropped in 1944 was excavated in the heart of Sarajevo.
  • EURO 2020 Qualifying: Albania loses 4-1 to France. Bosnia beats Liechtenstein 5-0 before falling 4-2 to Armenia. Croatia beats Slovakia 4-0. Kosovo beats Czechia 2-1 to extend their unbeaten streak to 16 matches. Up next: England. N. Macedonia and Israel draw 1-1. Serbia loses 4-2 to Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal. Slovenia bests Poland 2-0. 
  • Travel: Slovenia national airline Adria has announced twice weekly flights between Ljubjlana and Liverpool. Meanwhile, Wizz Air is suspending Slovenia operations. The budget carrier flew from Ljubljana to London and Brussels. Israeli budget airline ISRAIR held talks in Sarajevo to explore a link with Tel Aviv