WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN THE BALKANS TODAY

  • WEEKEND READ: “Want to Cultivate a Liberal European Islam? Look to Bosnia.” by Riada Asimovic Akyol for The Atlantic:”When French President Emmanuel Macron said last summer that he would create a new “framework and rules” for Islamic institutions in France, he was not alone. Other politicians and thinkers have also been involved in a broader effort to find an articulation of the religion that meshes with what they see as European values.What is too little noticed, however, is that a tolerant European Islam has already existed for centuries—on the southeastern part of the continent, where Bosnian Muslims, Albanians, Turks, and others see themselves as fully Muslim and fully European. A 2013 Pew Research Center study shows that they’re among the most liberal Muslims in the world. For example, only tiny minorities of surveyed Bosnian Muslims, known as Bosniaks, think adulterers must be stoned and apostates executed, in contrast with large majorities in favor of both stances among Pakistani and Egyptian Muslims.”
  • Putin’s Agenda: According to Russian news outlet TASS, Putin will speak with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic about Kosovo. Kremlin Aide Yuri Ushakov said: “The Kosovo issue will be discussed. The situation around Kosovo has deteriorated over a series of provocations by the Kosovo Albanians. This is the introduction of 100% custom duties on goods from Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. This is the laws passed by the so-called Kosovo parliament in December on the transformation of Kosovo’s security forces into a full-fledged Kosovo army, what is a rude violation of the UN Security Council Resolution 1244.”
  • Ushakov also indicated that Putin will meet with Bosnian Serb Member of the Presidency Milorad Dodik Thursday afternoon. B92 reports that Montenegrin opposition leaders from the Democratic Front (DF) Andrija Mandic and Milan Knezevic will be present at a lunch with Putin. 
  • Losing Influence?: Turkish President Recepp Tayyip Erdogan calls for a revision of the Dayton Peace Accords in Bosnia and Herzegovina during a press conference with visiting Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic. Washington Post writes: “Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has called for a revision of the 1995 peace agreement that ended the Bosnian War, saying they failed to address the former Yugoslav republic’s future.Erdogan said the United Nations should take ‘a stronger step’ in a possible revision of the international Dayton Accords that established a complex government system designed to heal an ethnic divide after the 1992-95 war in which 100,000 people died.”
  • Grabar Kitarovic: “We share the wish for Bosnia and Herzegovina’s quick progress and for the benefit of all its three constituent peoples and all its citizens. Stability of Bosnia and Herzegovina is of strategic importance which is why it is necessary to encourage dialogue, compromise and cooperation between three constituent peoples.” She also called for trilateral cooperation between Bosnia, Croatia, and Turkey
  • Turkey’s Balkan Visitors: Macedonian Minister of Foreign Nikola Dimitrov will be on a working visit to Turkey on Thursday and meet his Turkish counterpart,  Mevlut Cavusoglu, to discuss areas of further cooperation.
  • European Visions: EU Commissioner for Neighborhood Policy & Enlargement Johannes Hahn will be received by Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj on Thursday in Pristina.  
  • Croatian Defense Minister Damir Krstičević looking to Sweden and Greece?  “Israel has … unfortunately officially informed the Ministry of Defence that it is unable to receive the adequate [third-party transfer] approval for the delivery of Israeli F-16 Barak aircraft to the Republic of Croatia.”
  • More Protests in Belgrade: Serbs protested across Belgrade against the government on the one year anniversary of the assassination of Kosovo Serb politician Oliver Ivanovic. The case is still unresolved. There was a commemoration for him at the site of his assassination in North Mitrovica, as well. Earlier this week a mural of Ivanovic appeared in Belgrade with the saying, “One does not live in the atmosphere of fear.”
  • 2008 US Embassy in Belgrade Torching: The AP writes: “A Serbian appeals court has acquitted the suspects in the 2008 rioting and torching of the U.S. embassy in Belgrade after a rally against Kosovo’s declaration of independence. The Appeals Court of Belgrade said Wednesday it has overturned suspended prison sentences for four suspects and confirmed an earlier acquittal of three more people by a lower court. The court says prosecutors have failed to provide enough evidence to back the indictment.”
  • Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras barely survived a no confidence vote that would have called for snap elections. There have been death threats sent to MPs and ministers of the Greek region of Macedonia where the deal is fiercely opposed.
  • China’s new ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina Ji Ping has officially handed his credentials at a ceremony in Sarajevo. He will look to expand upon his predecessors achievement of visa-free travel between the two states. 

BEYOND THE POLITICS

  • DVIDS takes a deep dive in what it takes to keep Camp Bondsteel in Kosovo up and running. Rabia Coombs writes: “Col. Grant L. Morris, commander 405th Army Field Support Brigade and Command Sgt. Maj. James R. Holmes III, 405th AFSB, conducted a site visit of Camp Bondsteel to gain hands-on insight and customer input on their Logistics Civil Augmentation Program mission in Kosovo, Jan.8-10. Camp Bondsteel is an essential command and supply hub for NATO operations throughout the southeastern Europe region and receives its main base life support and sustainment services through the LOGCAP. The 405th AFSB facilitates LOGCAP in Europe and Africa to augment deployed forces and other organizations with sustainment support services.”
  • As migrant crisis heats up, “Slovenian police filed a lawsuit in an administrative court against the Commissioner for Information, Mojca Prelesnik”.

  •  Up in the air: Qatar Airways is hiring in Zagreb and Skopje

  • Croatian superstar Luka Modric has been named one of the most fittest athletes of the year.