WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN THE BALKANS TODAY
We would like to wish a happy Eid-al-Fitr to all those celebrating, especially across the Balkans.

  • US Army Secretary Mark Esper held a closed door meeting with US Ambassador to Kosovo Philip Kosnett before visiting Camp Bondsteel. The NATO KFOR mission entered its 20th year in 2019. 
  • US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South Central European Affairs Matthew Palmer urged Kosovo and Serbia to return to dialogue in an interview with Voice of America (Serbian language).
  • Congressman Tim Burchett (R -TN,02) stood by his controversial remarks in April. According to Knox News, he said, “Clearly, not all Serbians are bad people, but it is a fact that Serbia allowed genocidal rape against the Kosovar population in the 90s and rapists, no matter their nationality, are dirtbags.”
  • He continued: “To add insult to injury, Serbia still refuses to recognize Kosovo’s independence, despite the fact that the United States and many other nations have recognized Kosovo’s sovereignty for years. If Serbia hopes to join the European Union, something the U.S. has been generally supportive of, it should get its act together.”
  • EU member states will discuss North Macedonia on June 18th. Romania, who currently holds the EU Presidency, added it to the agenda. Prime Minister Zoran Zaev held a joint press conference with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker
  •  NATO Secretary Jens Stoltenberg praised North Macedonia noting that it is ready to be welcomed into the NATO family.
  • Bosnian Serb Member of the Presidency Milorad Dodik is in Russia at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. He reiterated his desire for Russian gas, but also wants to maintain the Turkish route. 
  • Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic told UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) Chief Zahir Tanin that “The UN role in Kosovo is of vital significance for Serbia.”
  • According to What’s in Blue: “In June, the (UN Security) Council anticipates holding its second of three briefings on the situation in Kosovo scheduled for this year. The Special Representative and head of the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), Zahir Tanin, will brief on recent developments and the latest report by the Secretary-General.”
  • Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic visited the Embassy of Italy to celebrate the 140 years of diplomatic relations. He emphasized Italy’s culture and strong relations.
  • Sarajevo Times: “A representative of the House of Representatives of the Parliamentary Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina Nikola Lovrinović met in Bratislava on the sidelines of the Spring Assembly of the Parliamentary Assembly of NATO (NATO PA), with NATO PA President Madeleine Moon and Secretary-General of the International Secretariat of NATO PA David Hobbs.”

BEYOND THE POLITICS

  • Real Madrid announced the signing of Serbian soccer star Luka Jovic from Eintracht Frankfurt for a fee of around $67.5 million.
  • A Game of Thrones luxury cruise will take off in August 2020. A lucky 38 people will aboard the first cruise that will make stops in Dubrovnik, Split, Hvar, and UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
  • There are 250 scholarships to learn Croatian in Croatia available. See here for more details.