WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN THE BALKANS TODAY

Join Balkan Insider for a timely conversation on the Kosovo-Serbia Dialogue with Serbia’s Director for the Office of Kosovo and Metohija MARKO DJURIC on Thursday, September 10, at 11:00AM EST, 5:00PM CET.

Mr. Djuric was a part of Serbia’s delegation to the White House meetings that led to economic normalization agreements signed by Serbia and Kosovo on September 4. Following the meetings in Washington, he travelled to Brussels for expert-level talks under the auspices of the European Union.

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CORONAVIRUS by the numbers:

  • BiH: 21,961 confirmed cases, 15,172 recovered, 669 deaths.
  • CROATIA: 12,285 confirmed cases, 9,553 recovered, 203 deaths.
  • KOSOVO: 14,301 confirmed cases, 10,782 recovered, 568 deaths.
  • MONTENEGRO: 5,875 confirmed cases, 112 deaths.
  • N. MACEDONIA: 15,226 confirmed cases, 631 deaths.
  • SERBIA: 31,994 confirmed cases, 638437hospitalized, 727 deaths.
  • SLOVENIA: 3,232 confirmed cases, 135 deaths.

HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY!: We would like to wish Macedonians across the world a happy independence day which was observed yesterday. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo wrote in a statement, “Your accomplishments will help shape the future direction of the Western Balkans region.” And added, “The United States stands by North Macedonia as a steadfast Ally.”

NSC PRAISES VUCIC: The White House National Security Council “applauds (Serbian President Aleksandar) Vucic’s courage” for standing up to Spokeswoman of the Russian Foreign Ministry Maria Zakharova’s disparaging Facebook post ridiculing a photo of Vucic and U.S. President Trump in the Oval Office.

FALLOUT IN KOSOVO PARLIAMENT AFTER AGREEMENT: Kosovo’s opposition party, the Democratic Party of Kosovo (LDK), began collecting signatures to have Kosovo PM report on the talks in Washington last week. In addition to LDK, Vetvendosje also called for a report on the talks and agreements. PM Hoti is willing and looking forward to reporting to MPs on the discussions in the U.S. capital.

GRENELL SLAMS KURTI: U.S. envoy for the Kosovo-Serbia Dialogue Richard Grenell slammed Kosovo MP Albin Kurti (Vetvendosje) after Kurti tweeted, “We are not bound by the commitments of Kosova’s illegitimate PM when we return to office. His signature below incoherent and opaque texts is against the people’s will, democratic order & violates Kosova’s constitution & laws. They will not be ratified in our Parliament.” Grenell accused Kurti of being anti-American. Grenell tweeted, “One thing is for sure, you can always count on Albin Kurti to be against the United States. He was against Obama’s ideas, and he was against Bush’s ideas. Symbolism doesn’t pay the rent; jobs do.”

PALMER IN SARAJEVO: U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs and Special Envoy to the Western Balkans, Matthew Palmer, is today in Sarajevo for talks with government officials and political actors.

ICMYI: The EU warned Kosovo and Serbia about moving embassies to Jerusalem, Israel, after signing agreements in Washington. The EU says by moving the Serbian Embassy and opening the Kosovo Embassy in Jerusalem is against the EU’s common foreign policy.

Meanwhile… Bosnian Serb Member of the Presidency Milorad Dodik claims he will send a request to the tripartite presidency to move the Embassy of Bosnia and Herzegovina from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. He said, “Because that’s obviously a high interest of the USA, which we had a chance to see the other day during the talks between Vucic and others there. Why wouldn’t we do the same if we care about the American support.”

But he was rebuked by Bosnian Croat Member of the Presidency Zeljko Komsic said Dodik was being hypocritical. Komsic noted, “This comes from a man on the American blacklist. Dodik would like to be against the NATO, object the Bosnian-US partnership against terrorism, reject the American observers in elections, so there is no single man in Bosnia and Herzegovina that object the American interests more than him.”

JANSA + KURZ: Slovenian PM Janez Jansa yesterday met with Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz The Slovenian government wrote in a statement, “Today, the Prime Minister of Slovenia, Janez Janša, hosted a working visit by the Federal Chancellor of the Republic of Austria, Sebastian Kurz, in Ljubljana. The main subjects of talks related to the COVID situation; the interlocutors also discussed bilateral relations between the two countries and current European issues. The relations between Slovenia and Austria are considered to be excellent.”

HOTI + STOLTENBERG: Before heading back to Pristina, Kosovo PM Avdullah Hoti met with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in the first meeting of the two in person. Stoltenberg reiterated that NATO is “firmly committed to stability in the Western Balkans.”

Speaking of Iowa + NATO: The Iowa National Guard is preparing to deploy 270 National Guard soldiers to Kosovo in a wave of deployments for Iowa.

RUSSIA + SERBIA + BELARUS + DEFENSE: Serbia joined Russia in Belarus for the 2020 Slavic Brotherhood military exercise. Belarus is facing civil strife  after longtime dictator Alexander Lukashenko refused to give up power as his security forces have been battling protestors on the street. The exercise is expected to run between September 10 and September 15.

PLENKOVIC ON CNN: “‘It’s an impressive number, two and a half million people managed to visit Croatia this summer. Tourists – when they were able to go. It was down 50 percent from last year, but as Croatia points out, it’s much better than many of its neighbors and fellow European countries,’ CNN’s Richard Quest announced in a segment on his business show Quest Means Business on Monday evening, titled Croatia’s Tough Choice, in which Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic appeared via Skype from Zagreb to explain the country’s approach to coronavirus.” (N1)

SERBIA + CHINA + COVID: Serbia is set to participate in the third round of testing of a Chinese Coronavirus vaccine.

WAR CRIME FILES LEAKED: The Association of Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) Veterans received thousands of pages of documents from the Hague-based Kosovo Specialist Chambers. An anonymous person dropped off the documents at the KLA Veterans headquarters.

It didn’t last long – Investigators from The special court went to the office and retrieved the documents.

IN OTHER NEWS
OP-ED: “Why the Fuss Over the Serbia-Kosovo Treaty?” by Kevin Drum in Mother JonesOP-ED: “Seizing the democratic opportunity in Montenegro” by Florian Bieber and Jovana Markovic in London School of Economics

OP-ED: “Electoral glimpse of hope in Montenegro” by Srdja Pavlovic in Open Democracy

ANALYSIS: “Montenegro’s turnaround: Outcomes and prospects” by Peter Iskenderov in Modern Diplomacy

CULTURE: “A forgotten Story: The Spite Meadow of Munib Effendi Glođo” in Sarajevo Times

ENTERTAINMENT: “10 documentaries to vie at Bosnian festival” by Handan Kazanci in Andolu Agency

ENTERTAINMENT: “Beyonce and Jay-Z are spending their summer vacation in Croatia” in The Dubrovnik Times

TRAVEL: “The land of immaculate beaches: Montenegro” in Turkish Arlines Blog