WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN THE BALKANS TODAY

  • Moment of Truth: The Greek Parliament will vote on whether to ratify the Prespa Agreement today, or potentially keep Macedonia on the outside looking in to vital international and regional organs like NATO and the EU. 
  • Long Lines?: If it does pass, there may be long lines to change documents, but Prime Minister Zoran Zaev vows to be the first. He said: “I might be the first to change my passport with a new name Republic of North Macedonia. I was the first who said ‘Long live Republic of North Macedonia’. This is not easy for our people, but it gives hope and perspective.”
  • Read up: “Macedonia’s Name Change Is A Triumph For the E.U., But Worrying for Democracy” by Angelos Chryssogelos in Time Magazine. 
  • If All Else Fails, Move to New Macedonia, No Wait, New York: A billboard appeared in New York City promoting Macedonia and Macedonian Cultural Art. 
  • Friendly Neighbors: Speaker of the House of Montenegro Ivan Brajovic and his Macedonian counterpart Talet Xhaferi conducted fruitful and positive discussion of minorities in both states, human rights, and Brajovic told Xhaferi that Montenegro looks forward to welcoming Macedonia to be the latest newest member of NATO.
  • Up in Bosnia: The Advisory Council for Bosnia and Herzegovina (ACBH) President Ajla Deljkic and Vice Chairman Nedim Music met on Wednesday with the Bosniak and Croat Members of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sefik Dzaferovic and Zeljko Komsic, and former Bosniak Member of the Presidency, Bakir Izetbegovic.  
  • It was the Serb Member of the Presidency, Milorad Dodik, who stirred up talks of dissolving Bosnia and Herzegovina: “If they (SDA political party) send a formal appeal to the Constitutional Court, it will mean an initiative to dissolve Bosnia and Herzegovina. The RS will not wait for the outcome of this process because we have no trust in the Constitutional Court,”
  • Pessimism in Serbia: Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic on dialogue with Kosovo: “I’ve been talking about it for many years, that some sort of this separation line should be determined. The interpretation of those countries that have recognized Kosovo is that it has its own borders, while our public, and the Constitution, say that Kosovo is a part of Serbia. There are two basic solutions: one that Kosovo is independent, and ours is that Kosovo should have the highest degree of autonomy within Serbia. Neither of these solution is acceptable to both sides.”
  • Wait a Second: President of Serbia Aleksandar Vucic met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Davos. The pair discussed increasing trade, finding a solution for Kosovo, and Vucic invited Merkel to visit Serbia. 
  • Davos: While Vucic was speaking with Merkel, Kosovo President Hashim Thaci utilized the opportunity to meet the EU’s Johannes Hahn about investment and the Kosovo-Serbia situation.
  • Tangled Web: Twenty-six year old Kosovo citizen Gent Cekaj was sworn in today as a deputy minister after Albanian President Ilir Meta refused to decree Cekaj for the position of Foreign Minister because Prime Minister Edi Rama sacked Meta’s Foreign Minister, Dimitar Bushati. Rama appointed himself as Foreign Minister until they could agree on a replacement.
  • East to Push West: A main issue for the Romanian EU Presidency which began on January 1 is prioritize and speed up the opportunity for EU expansion to the Western Balkans.
  • Back to Baku: Secretary General of the Foreign Ministry of Montenegro Veselin Sukovic visited with Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov and pledged to open an Embassy in the country.
  • Debt Scandal: Maybe Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic could be looking for an escape to Azerbaijan soon since he has been embroiled in a debt scandal. Montenegrin news outlet Vijesti reports that he had over $16,000 paid off in debt.
  • Think that’s bad?:  What about defrauding the Transport Ministry and siphoning money from road companies? According to N1, former Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) government minister Bozidar Kalmeta on Wednesday appeared in court to reject the indictment. 
  • Larger Than Life: CNN-affiliate N1 has released a documentary called “Serbia, Democracy, and Injustice” on the murder of Kosovo Serb politician Oliver Ivanovic. The film can be see on YouTube, but unfortunately  there are not English subtitles

BEYOND THE POLITICS

  • Red NoticeZoran Stupar of Vlasenica, Bosnia is wanted by Interpol. He is being accused of “personally and directly” orchestrating “crimes against humanity”.
  • Air Serbia will launch nine new lines from Belgrade to Kiev, Madrid, Barcelona, Rijeka, Krasnodar, Helsinki and Cairo, and seasonal lines to Nice and Zadar.
  • ANALYSIS: Tucker Jones of the International Republican Institute (IRI) took a look at the similarities between the ongoing protests in Serbia and Hungary. Read it here.