WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN THE BALKANS TODAY
- PRESPA: Macedonian Parliament has approved the constitutional amendments to rename the state The Republic of North Macedonia which will come into effect if Greek Parliament approves the agreement. Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras lost a coalition ally and could be facing snap elections.
- Russia Alert: Russian President Vladimir Putin will be in Serbia on January 17th. According to Russian news agency, TASS, Putin will meet President Aleksandar Vucic to discuss areas of innovation.
- F-16 Deal: The US Embassy in Croatia told N1, “The United States wholeheartedly supported Croatia’s acquisition of a NATO-compatible fourth generation aircraft from Israel, and worked to make this transfer a reality. We remain committed to assisting the Republic of Croatia in its procurement of NATO-compatible combat aircraft…As is common in these types of transfers, there are specific technical conditions that need to be in place to enable US approval of the transfer. We were clear about those conditions throughout, and our December 27, 2018 approval of the transfer was consistent with that message.”
- Anti-government protests in Serbia have continued into their sixth week on Saturday. Thousands of people marched across cities demanding a freer media and President Aleksandar Vucic to resign.
- War Court: Kosovo Deputy Prime Minister and co-head of the delegation negotiating with Serbia, Fatmir Limaj, says Kosovo will as for a court to be established for Serb crimes committed during the 1999 Kosovo War. He said, “We will ask a war crimes court and not allow Serbia allegedly try war criminals. We want a special court with international judges to investigate all massacres which happened in Kosovo.”
- Meanwhile, the Hague has summoned Kosovo politicians and former commanders of the Kosovo Liberation Army for interrogations under the Specialist Chambers.
- Croatia’s Ambassador to Bosnia Ivan Del Vechio will be dismissed for attending the unconstitutional Republika Srpska Day celebrations in Banja Luka.
- Montenegro’s President Milo Djukanovic arrived in Abu Dhabi on an official visit to the United Arab Emirates. He will meet Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan today.
- The United Arab Emirates-Kosovo Economic Forum will take place on January 16th. The Kosovo delegation will be led by Minister of Economic Development Valdrin Lluka and Minister of Trade and Industry Endrit Shala.
- Bosnian Serb Member of the Presidency Milorad Dodik: “We keep saying that we’re not Bosnian Serbs but even the high-ranking international officials keep calling us Bosnian Serbs when they address us…They expect us to call Bosniaks as Bosniaks, even though we have a number of objections to the context, history and many other things. They say they want to be called Bosniaks, and we say ok, but they keep calling us Bosnian Serbs.”
BEYOND THE POLITICS
- Serbia-born Irena Ivicrescued an infant running down the street in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She is a bus driver for the Milwaukee County Transportation System.
- Slovenia’s word of the year is čebela, orhoneybee. Slovenia led an initiative in the United Nations for World Bee Day which is celebrated on May 20.
- The Serbian basketball federation has named Denver Nuggets forward Nikola Jokic as its player of the year.
- Montenegro will invest over $320 million in tourism development in 2019. There were over 100,000 tourists that visited Montenegro in 2018 than 2017.
- Property prices in Dubrovnik are double the price than anywhere else in Croatia. The average rent is near $4,325 while in Zagreb it is $2,250 per square meter.