WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN THE BALKANS TODAY

  • Big News From Washington: U.S. State Department official A. Wess Mitchell, the Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs, has announced his resignation that will come into effect on February 15, 2019. He cited personal and professional reasons for leaving the position.
  • Tough Task: US Ambassador to Kosovo Philip Kosnett met with Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj and Parliament Speaker Kadri Veseli on Tuesday to discuss the 100% tax imposed on products from Serbia and Bosnia & Herzegovina. Reports from Kosovo say that Veseli is all for preserving the relationship with the US while Haradinaj refuses to back down on revoking the taxes. 
  • Nezavisne Novine from Bosnia and Herzegovina is reporting that the state will not achieve EU candidate status until it forms a government. 
  • United Mitrovica: Kosovo President Hashim Thaci wrote on Facebook: “Unification of Mitrovica town is irreversible. During the meeting with Mayor Bahtiri we have concluded that citizens of Mitrovica have already given their opinion. Now is up to the Government, Parliament and President’s Office to act, “
  • Kosovo-Serbia Dialogue under EU, Washington, & Moscow?: Serbia’s Ambassador to Russia Slavenko Terzic told reporters: “We now have the talks under the Brussels’ auspices, but if the US gets involved, then Moscow should do the same,”
  • Croats from Serbia: Croat leaders from Serbia met with Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic and President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic on Tuesday to discuss their treatment. The President of the Democratic Alliance of Croats in Vojvodina and member of Serbian Parliament Tomislav Žigmanov told them: “We are a community that unfortunately still does not enjoy full integration and equality when it comes to our place in Serbian society. We are a wounded community, a community that was the focus of ethnically motivated violence in the 1990s, and we are still confronted with negative stereotypes in Serbian society,” 
  • Albanians in Montenegro: Albanian President Ilir Meta continued his official visit to Montenegro by visiting the Albanian community in Tuz which will hold local elections on March 3 and the National Council of Albanians in Ulcinj to discuss problems they are currently facing. 
  • Slovenia Times: “Analysts attribute Sarec’s success to his persona“: “Prime Minister Marjan Sarec, whose cabinet has been assessed the most favourably in the past ten years in the latest Vox Populi poll, would not comment on the poll on Monday, saying that it was up to pundits to analyse the results. Analysts Antisa Korljan and Rok Caks attribute the PM’s success to his persona.”
  • The OSCE Mission in Kosovo released on Tuesday the report, “Shelters for Victims of Domestic Violence in Kosovo.” Read it here.
  • Bosnia’s Booming Airlines: New lines from Sarajevo have been announced by FlyBosnia: London, Frankfurt Rome, Paris, and Barcelona in Europe, and Riyadh, Jeddah, Beirut and Kuwait in the Middle East.

BEYOND THE POLITICS

  • ICMYI: The United Macedonian Diaspora (UMD) rang in Old New Years (Vasilica) in style in this year at the Rock Creek Manor in Washington D.C. with over 120 guests. 
  • Direct from Zagreb to Harvard: Students from Zagreb were greeted on Tuesday by Croatian Ambassador to the US Pjer Simunovic and embassy staff who wished them luck in their Model United Nations simulation at Harvard University this week. 
  • Six Kosovars were jailed on Tuesday for “joining terror groups,” according to the AP. One man was jailed for joining terror groups in Syria and sentenced to five years in jail. Five others were sentenced to seven years for “for participation in terror groups and other acts related to terrorism.” 
  • The Economist: “Why clerical rage over the ‘Macedonian question’ has modern roots” : “THE SPECTACLE of tear gas clouds swirling through Athens on January 20th was as bewildering to many outsiders as the passions behind the huge (and mostly peaceful) protest rally which went before. More bewildering still may have been the presence among the demonstrators of so many black-robed Greek Orthodox clergy.”
  • Croatian Coast in the Oscars: Polish film Cold War has been nominated for three Oscars, including Best Foreign Film. The catch? It was filmed in Split, Croatia!
  • The Serbian Harvard Connection: BBC News writes, “Novak Djokovic’s war memories make him fund childhood research“: Novak Djokovic has been battling in the Australian Open this week. But the tennis superstar has other goals that have nothing to do with sport, but much to do with his own childhood. His foundation is funding four researchers at Harvard University in the US to work on early years education. Their research at Harvard’s Centre on the Developing Child is focused on ways to improve the lives of young children, often those facing poverty and violence.