WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN THE BALKANS TODAY

  • Dobrodosli: The new US Ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Eric George Nelson, was sworn in today at the State Department in Washington DC.
  • US Ambassador to Croatia Robert Kohorst was interviewed by HRT on Monday and said the US would support Croatia’s ambitions to have fighter jets. He also spoke about Agrokor, Russian influence, and the LNG terminal in Krk. Watch the interview here.
  • Long Day of Diplomacy in Kosovo: Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj met with US Ambassador to Kosovo Philip Kosnett. Haradinaj took to Facebook and wrote: “Kosovo remains committed to preserving friendship and is forever loyal to its strategic ally, the US…Close relations between Kosovo and US is unfringeable, regardless potential different opinions.”
  • A Different Side of the Coin: A photo has been leaked allegedly written by State Department Officials Matthew Palmer, Laura Cooper, and Robert Erath urging Kosovo to suspend taxes to “restore our relationship and to our previous robust level.”
  • Haradinaj responds to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg who insisted that the Kosovo Security Forces should not enter Serb-majority northern Kosovo: “We have offered to NATO a new protocol, there is no north or south, it is one Kosovo, and all should understand, including the president of the country and myself. Kosovo is not interested to create doctrines to use its army against its people,”
  • Kosovo Foreign Minister Behgjet Pacolli wrote a letter to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres saying that Kosovo and Serbia have reached a diplomatic level where they are ready to recognize each other as independent states.
  • Just South, or Should I say North?: A government statement has declared that Macedonia has officially changed its name to North Macedonia: “We inform you that conditions to put into effect…amendments of the constitution of the Republic North Macedonia have been met.” 
  • Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov took to Twitter: “We have just exchanged the final note verbale: Prespa Agreement enters into force! May today be the beginning of a long friendship between Greece and North Macedonia. We can’t change our past, but we can and we will shape our future of friendship, partnership and cooperation.”
  • It began by removing signs that read “Republic of Macedonia” in downtown Skopje on the government building and replacing it with a NATO flag.
  • NATO Defense Ministers will meet in Brussels this week. Its Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg encouraged potential members to look at the path of Montenegro and the future North Macedonia. Montenegrin Defense Minister Predrag Boskovic and Macedonian Defense Minister Radmila Sekerinska will both be in attendance.
  • The Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) will decide next week whether to hold early elections after ten weeks of protest against its head and President of Serbia Aleksandar Vucic. The opposition has vowed to boycott and election under current regulations.
  • Austria has banned two symbols related to the Ustasha regime. If seen with them, it could lead to fines of over $4,000.
  • Chinese Trade: Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Minister of Trade and Economic Relations Mirko Sarovic said that trade between Bosnia and China has exceeded $700 million, a sharp increase since the previous period. 
  •  United: Slovenian and Croatian European People’s Party (EPP) members are officially unified against European Parliament Speaker AntonioTajani’s comments about “Italian Istria” and “Italian Dalmatia” during World War II. 
  • The Slovenian Prime Minister also Marjan Sarec hurled accusations at Rome of WWII “historical revisionism”. European Parliament President Antonio Tajani and Italy’s Interior Minister Matteo Salvini spoke at an event on the Slovenian border which saw fierce fighting by Tito’s Partisans during World War II.

BEYOND THE POLITICS

  • The Ohio Connection: Dayton, Ohio will welcome 18 students and 3 teachers from Bosnia and Herzegovina for a youth leadership exchange. The US Embassy in Sarajevo grant for youth leadership aims answer the question, “How do we enact change in a democracy?” for students from Sarajevo (Dayton’s sister city), Mostar, and Banja Luka.
  • Day Two: The European Youth Olympic Festival (EYOF) has fans and tourists buzzing about Bosnia and Herzeogovina. One tourist remarked, “Up until now, it was great. We root for Great Britain, but also for Bosnia and Herzegovina.”
  • Forbes ranks Zagreb as top European real estate market.
  • Low cost airline to launch Riyadh – Sarajevo direct. The seasonal summer flight would be three times a week. 
  • Bosnian police killed the man wanted in connection to two murders after a shootout.