WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN THE BALKANS TODAY
- Moscow & Prespa: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia released a statement on the Macedonia’s Prespa Agreement: “It’s about the continuation of the process of the artificial changing of the country’s name under foreign pressure in order for Skopje to join NATO by force. This is a violation of Macedonian laws. The opinion of the President of the state and the majority of the population that reject the Prespa Agreement are being ignored. The constant protests in Skopje and other Macedonian cities show a deep polarization in the society. It is obvious that this manner of solving issues of national significance for the country’s future is not a reflection of the will of its population and cannot serve as a tool for a longterm solution for the name dispute.”
- Kosovo Specialist Chambers: Former Kosovo Liberation Army commander Rrustem Mustafa has been interviewed by the special court located in the Hague. Mustafa said that “he will answer all the prosecutor’s questions.” Fellow commander Sami Lushtaku will be interviewed on January 16.
- Belgrade on Lockdown: It won’t be protests against the government that will paralyze Belgrade on January 17, but the visit of Russian President Vladimir Putin. There will be traffic modifications and special measures in buildings where Putin will be,
- Government Building: Bosnian Serb Zoran Tegeltija has been tipped to be the new Prime Minister of Bosnia. He would replace Denis Zvizdic who took office in March 2015. Bosnian Croat Member of Presidency Zeljko Komsic said he would support Tegeltija once Bosnia adopts Annual National Program for NATO.
- “The Bosnia Boondoggle: This is Why Sarajevo Can’t Join NATO” by Sean Maguire and Balkan Insider Editor Ryan Scherba write: “If the United States is serious about backing NATO membership for Bosnia and Herzegovina, then it has to get serious about the failures of the Dayton Peace Accords and drop its support for them as Bosnia’s governance system. They may have ended Bosnia’s civil war in 1995, but they have become synonymous with stagnation, frustration, despair, poor governance and weak institutions. This not only hinders the joint U.S.-Bosnian aspirations to join NATO, but has stagnated Bosnia overall, enshrining ethnic divisions (and tensions) legally between Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslims), Croats, and Serbs that have left Bosnia divided and ripe for the geopolitical goals of Russia. The recent elections in October that delivered a hardline Serb-nationalist who is stridently anti-West and NATO to the Bosnian presidency are evidence of this, while serving as a wake-up call to Washington that it is time to re-engage in Bosnia.”
- Djukanovic in UAE: Montenegro’s President Milo Djukanovic met Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan. They discussed increasing cooperation in the fields of infrastructure, tourism, and food development.
- Incoming: The United Kingdom released a statement namingAmbassador Sian MacLeod the new ambassador to Serbia. She was will replace Ambassador Denis Keefe in summer 2019. She has had multiple stints in Moscow, is the former Ambassador to Prague, and was most recently the Head of the UK Delegation to the OSCE.
- Dialogue Dead?: Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic on resuming dialogue with Kosovo: “We are talking about something that can be discussed if the dialogue continues, and for the dialogue to continue, the taxes must be revoked. And it’s clear to everyone, from the United States to the European Union,”
- Rumors: Kosovo media outlet Klan Kosova is reporting that the US State Department has eight main points for its policy toward Kosovo that can be read here. Al-Jazeera Balkans reports that Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj was denied a US visa because of the 100% tax on goods coming from Serbia and Bosnia.
- Rijeka: Robert Brelsford of the Oil & Gas Journal writes: “Croatia’s INA Industrija Nafte DD has approved a more-than $617-million plan to modernize its 90,000-b/d Rijeka refinery along the northern part of the Adriatic Sea as part of an organizational strategy to boost performance and competitiveness of its Croatian refining business.”
- Rising Fascism: Slovenia Times writes: “Parliamentary Speaker Dejan Židan spoke out against the rise of fascism in Europe as he addressed thousands of people who gathered for the annual commemoration of one of the heaviest clashes on Slovenian territory during World War Two on Sunday.”
BEYOND THE POLITICS
- “Kosovo’s Racak massacre 20 years on: memorials, but still no justice for victims,” by Greg Wilesmith of Australian Broadcasting Corporation recalls the main catalyst for NATOs intervention in 1999.
- I Feel Love. Slovenia launches “Green. Active. Healthy” campaign.
- Montenegro is suspending Tivat-Moscow flights in April 2019.
- The Croatian Handball team beat Macedonia in Germany over the weekend to secure their position in the knockout rounds of the World Handball Championships.