WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN THE BALKANS TODAY

  • Ambassadorless in Slovenia: The US Senate did not approve Ambassador nominee Lynda Blanchard by the end of 2018 and she will be “returned” to US President Donald Trump. President Trump will send a nomination for the ambassadorship in 2019. Former Ambassador Brent Hartley held his going away party in the middle of 2018. 
  • Kosovo-EU Meeting: The European Union’s Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini met with a Kosovar delegation on Tuesday. She urged Kosovo to revoke the 100% customs tariff it has applied on Bosnia and Serbia. The Kosovo delegation was co-headed by Shpend Ahmeti who reiterated Kosovo will keep the tax in place until Serbia recognizes Kosovo.
  • Israel-Croatia F-16 Deal: Breaking Defense reports,”A major arms sale between two close American allies is probably dead after the State Department objected to the transfer of sensitive technologies from Israel to Croatia,” according to US and EU officials.
  • Where to go?: Upwards of 40,000 Iranians had travelled to Serbia while it had a visa-free regime and direct flights between Tehran and Belgrade before the visa regime was reintroduced. Despite hopes of reaching Europe, most Iranians are stuck on the Serbian border. 
  • Anti-government Protests in Bosnia: New York Times’ Barbara Surk writes, “After his 21-year-old son David was found dead in a creek last March, Davor Dragicevic, a waiter in a cafe, took matters into his own hands.Dissatisfied with official explanations that David Dragicevic had been a drug addict and a thief, and had killed himself or been murdered by a criminal gang, Mr. Dragicevic started a one-man protest movement that has grown into the largest antigovernment demonstration in Bosnia in decades.”
  • Republika Srpska Day: Republika Srpska Day will be celebrated in the Serb-dominated entity of Bosnia and Herzegovina on today. The Bosnian Constitutional Court ruled it was an unconstitutional celebration controversial celebration in November 2015. Serb leaders from across the region are expected to attend. 
  • Macedonia Name Change: Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev received support from the Alliance of Albanians who will vote for constitutional changes in the preamble. Parliament is meeting today to start the final phase of constitutional changes that will be voted on in this session. 
  • Cyprus-Slovenia: “The President of Cyprus Nicos Anastasiades will pay a two-day official visit to Slovenia, during which he will meet with the President of Slovenia, Borut Pahor. The two countries are also expected to sign a Memorandum of Understanding.” (Cyprus Mail)
  • Gas flow: Two-was gas flow has been introduced in Slovenia and Croatia. N1 writes, “The state-owned Plinacro gas transmission company on Monday reported that two-way gas flow between Croatia and Slovenia has been enabled at the inter-connection at the border town of Rogatec, which will make it possible for Croatia to export gas in addition to importing it from Slovenia.”

BEYOND THE POLITICS

  • Serbian high school teacher Katarina Veljkovic was nominated as one of the top 50 educators for the Varkey Global Teacher Prize. She teaches IT in Kragujevac. 
  • Ljubljana Airport to build new terminal before Summer Tourism Season 2021.
  • Croatia arrested seventy-two year old, high-profile Italian mobster Claudia D’Este (72) on New Years Eve on an Italian arrest warrant in Zagreb.
  • “Slovenia was the first European Union country to test the market in 2019, with its sale on Monday of a 10-year benchmark bond to the value of 1.5 billion euros ($1.72 billion) being more than twice oversubscribed, the finance ministry said.” (Reuters)
  • Three ethnic Albanians were arrested in Belgrade and sentenced to 55 days in jail each for writing “UCK,” the acronym for the Kosovo Liberation Army in the Albanian language.