WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN THE BALKANS TODAY

  • Congressman Troy Balderson (R-OH,12) joins the Congressional Caucus on Macedonia and Macedonian-Americans.
  • Chief of analytics at Serbia’s Security Intelligence AgencyRelja Zeljski, confirms the authenticity of the video of the alleged Russian spy handing money to a supposed Serbian agent. Zeljski said, “Our agencies, both civilian and military, are working on all circumstances in this case and Serbia’s President (Aleksandar Vucic) will give further details about the issue after the National Security Council’s session due on Thursday.”
  • Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said, “I am in contact with the president. If true, it is a serious problem.” Serbian Defense Minister Aleksandar Vulin reiterated Brnabic and said, “the situation is very serious.”
  • Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic will meet today with Russian Ambassador Alexander Botsan Kharchenko over the incident.
  • MEANWHILE IN MOSCOW: Serbia’s Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic signed two security agreements with Secretary of the Russian Security Council Nikolai Patrushev on fighting organized crime and counter terrorism.
  • EPP IN ZAGREB: The European People’s Party (EPP) convention kicked off in Zagreb on Wednesday with over 2,000 delegates.
  • N1 reports, “among those attending will be the outgoing Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and his successor Ursula von der Leyen, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Austrian Prime Minister Sebastian Kurz, the prime ministers of Bulgaria, Greece, Ireland, Latvia, Moldova, Romania and Norway, and the presidents of Switzerland and Cyprus. Also present will be Italian, Slovenian and Ukrainian opposition leaders Silvio Berlusconi, Janez Jansa and Yulia Tymoshenko.”
  • KEY TAKEAWAYS: Outgoing European Council President Donald Tusk, the only candidate on the list, was voted as the new president of the EPP. His predecessor, Joseph Daul, stressed that shutting Albania and N. Macedonia out of the EU leaves the countries susceptible to Russia, China, Turkey, and the Gulf states. BiH Presidency Member Sefik Dzaferovic addressed the conference and urged greater EU support for BiH.
  • “Today, North Macedonia’s Prime Minister Zoran Zaev reiterated that the judiciary, namely courts and prosecutions, would undergo vetting, calling it ‘a necessary process.’ According to him, the whole process needs to be organized well. ‘Vetting is our obligation as a society. In the future, the society will undergo a transformation as we open the (EU) chapters. There needs to be a shake-up – if we want to serve the state, we should provide our data and that of our family in a transparent way in order to eliminate any suspicion of personal interest,’ noted Zaev.” (Nezavisen)
  • Outgoing Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj says it “would be tragic” if the 100% taxes on Serbia were withdrawn and that he hopes “that the next government won’t abolish the tariffs because that would bring Serbia’s goods back to Kosovo.”
  • “At the invitation of the Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates, Mohhammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum and the Minister of Defense, Mohammed Bin Ahmad Al Bawardi, Minister of Defense of BiH Marina Pendesh leads a delegation of the Ministry of Defense and the Armed Forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina attending the international meeting from 17 to 20 November, to attend 2019 Airshow Dubai Defense Show.” (Sarajevo Times)
  • Russia’s Ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Petr Ivantsov, insists that the document BiH will send to NATO does not imply hopes for accession to the collective security organization.
  • Serbia signed a cooperation deal with the European Commission and its border agency Frontex with a focus on migration and cross-border crime.
  • Croatia’s Energy and Environmental Protection Minister Tomislav Coric calls for the establishment of an Energy Union during Croatia’s EU Presidency at the Islands Forum which kicked off in Split.
  • Coric noted, “Alongside clean energy for islands, we also plan to focus on the continuation of the establishment and implementation of the Energy Union as well as on transitioning to clean energy, which will include activities and measures for the reduction of harmful emissions and the development of a low-carbon economy, in line with a just energy transition.”
  • Mijatovic noted, “The revelations of abuse in the Pazaric institution for children and youth with intellectual and psycho-social disabilities are profoundly shocking. I call upon the authorities of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina to initiate, as a matter of urgency, an effective investigation into the cases of abuse in this institution and bring to justice those responsible for the abuse.”
  • Russia’s Ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Petr Ivantsov, insists that the document BiH will send to NATO does not imply hopes for accession to the collective security organization.
  • Bosnia’s Finance Minister Vjekoslav Bevanda and director of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) Manuela Nassl signed two agreements Wednesday worth €7 million, for the Blue Water regional project, and the construction of a local landfill in Zivinice, central Bosnia. The first agreement between Bosnia and the EBRD is worth €2 million and these funds were provided by the Swedish Development Agency SIDA in support of the regional Blue Water project. The project was earlier supported by the EBRD and the European Council’s Development Bank (ECB) with €11 million from each institution.” (N1)
  • Slovenia’s parliament will convene today to vote on the budget draft and a bailout law. Finance Minister Andrej Bertoncelj noted, “If there is a discrepancy between between the budget and the law on budget implementation, we will probably no longer have a finance minister.”
  • Teachers in Croatia have continued nation-wide strikes for the 28th day. The teacher’s unions say they will continue to strike until their demands are met. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Education is looking to add missed days to the end of the school year, the nightmare of every elementary and secondary student.
  • Meanwhile, there is a call for Albanians in Serbia’s Presevo Valley to march to join Kosovo on November 28th, Albania’s Independence Day, for national unity.
  • CRIME: Bosnia arrests four linked to Indian businessman Pramod Mittal on suspicion of organized crime and abuse of power.
IN OTHER NEWS…
  • SPORT: Former Cincinnati Bearcat and NBA player Sean Kilpatrick joined Montenegro’s KK Buducnost.
  • SPORT: “The epic, terrific, fantastic rise of the -ics in the NBA” by Doug Robinson in Desert News: “They’re fantastic and prolific and certainly a strong demographic. The -ics are thriving in the NBA — -ic, as in Jokic, Doncic, Dragic, Bogdanovic, Bogdanovic, Vucevic and Nurkic. What in the name of Kresimir Cosic is going on here? We interrupt the fawn fest over ‘dynamic duos’ in the NBA to divert your attention to the invasion of the -ics. They’re dynamic and terrific and problematic for opposing teams. Maybe you’re a skeptic because they aren’t playing for some of the sexier teams, but let’s be realistic — the -ics are making their presence known in the NBA. If you want to talk ethnic or geographic, they’re all from Eastern Europe. To be more specific, they’re from the tiny Balkan countries of Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia, Slovenia, Montenegro.”
  • ENTERTAINMENT: “Headlong into the war zone in new documentary” by Esther McCarthy in the Irish Examiner: “Irish photographer Seamus Murphy brought music star PJ Harvey to Afghanistan to film part of their documentary, writes Esther McCarthy. Not many rock stars would hop on a flight to Afghanistan, but then not many rock stars are like PJ Harvey. Seeking first-hand experience of the countries and people she would be writing about for her latest album, Harvey got in touch with acclaimed Irish conflict photographer Seamus Murphy. His new documentary, A Dog Called Money, shows how travel to Kosovo, Afghanistan and Washington DC inspired the writing process for Harvey’s album, The Hope Six Demolition Project.”