WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN THE BALKANS TODAY

  • House Committee Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot Engel (D, NY-16) urged the EU to grant Kosovo visa liberalization while on a bipartisan congressional delegation tip to NATO Parliamentary Assembly: “One of the key criteria for Kosovo to be granted the visa free regime was the border demarcation between Kosovo and Montenegro. Even though the border deal was ratified, the visa regime was not lifted. Once Kosovo sees that there’s a positive reaction toward its actions, then there will not be any problems..Serbia cannot keep Kosovo outside INTERPOL, UNESCO and it cannot ask other countries to withdraw their recognition for Kosovo. This is not fair. Both sides need to show good will. I would like to see both Serbia and Kosovo as part of European Union.”
  • US Ambassador to Croatia Robert Kohorst praises Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic for admitting using the salute, “For the Homeland, Ready,” was a mistake. 
  • Formalities Concluded: New US Ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina Eric George Nelson gave his credentials to Chairman of the Presidency of Bosnia of Herzegovina, Bosnian Serb Milorad Dodik. Nelson said, “I am glad that I will be helping your country together with you and your colleagues in the Presidency to make progress towards the partnership in NATO and EU, which are its goals.”
  • No Consensus?: Dodik: “We’re committed to cooperation with NATO and we have certain arrangements through the Partnership for Peace and individual cooperation programme. Our soldiers take part in various missions within NATO but I would like to tell you that there is no consensus in Bosnia and Herzegovina on accession to NATO.”
  • Bosniak Member of the Presidency Sefik Dzaferovic met with Qatari Ambassador Sultan bin Ali Al-Khater to projects for the Bosnian-Qatari fund.
  • EUROPEAN ELECTIONS: Slovenia’s SDS  and LMS parties are projected to each with 3 seats each in the May European elections. The SDS is a part of the European People’s Party (EPP) while the LMS is a part of Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE).
  • Montenegro Prime Minister Dusko Markovic met with First Vice President of the EBRD Jurgen Rigterink  who said that it would help Montenegro develop a green economy and sustainable tourism.
  • Kosovo-Serbia Latest: Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic said the official proposal for the dialogue with Kosovo is a demarcation between Albanians and Serbs.
  • This was rejected by Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj: “Dacic’s stance is nothing new. This shows again that ethnic division is the official stance of Serbia. Ethnic division leads to tragedies in the Balkans, and such statements are dangerous. Division along ethnic lines is impossible, irrational at the political level.”
  • Dacic also noted: “When debt needs to be paid off, then they are a part of Serbia. When there’s property to be grabbed, then they are an independent state…They are waiting for us to pay that, to then they say, ‘starting tomorrow, Trepca is ours’. They say they are an independent state – but they don’t want to pay off their debt.” B92 reports that Serbia has paid around $794 million of debt for Kosovo.
  • Tajini in Trouble?: Una Hajdari writes for the New York Times on Tajini’s controversial statements about Croatia and Slovenia, “E.U. Parliament Chief Asked to Step Down Over Divisive Remarks
  • NEPOTISM: Officials have been removed in the government of North Macedonia for nepotism. According to Meta.mk, the first dismissals came from Prime Minister Zoran Zaev’s SDSM party.
  • The Bulgarian-Macedonian Commission met in Skopje to discuss history and education per the Neighborhood Treaty between the two countries. 
  • ELECTION LAW: Slovenian President Borut Pahor is to draft two proposals for electoral system change after meeting with thirteen unrepresentated political parties. 
  • ARRESTEDBosnia and Herzegovina arrested five Afghan migrants with suspected links to terrorism.
  • Germany arrested two men Bosnian nationality with 17 hand grenades in the eastern city of Dresden. They are suspected of illegally entering the country.

BEYOND THE POLITICS