WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN THE BALKANS TODAY

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN THE BALKANS TODAY

  • Commander of NATO forces in Europe, US General Curtis Scaparrotti, voiced concerns about Russia’s destabilizing influence in the Balkans and fears it could try to interfere with North Macedonia’s NATO accession. He spoke at a hearing for the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday.
  • The US State Department has released its 2018 Human Rights Report. See how the Balkan countries did here.
  • Federica Mogherini spoke to the UN Security Council about the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue. She insisted any agreement  “must be in line with international law and has to get the UNSC approval. So, your role is and will be crucial, while we are ready, I am ready, to empower the exchange of contacts with all UNSC member states,” and said that dialogue would resume once Kosovo lifts the tariffs.
  • Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrell was in Serbia where he met with Prime Minister Ana Brnabic and Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic. Borrell noted that the situations of Kosovo and Catalonia are not similar and stressed Spain’s continued support of Serbia’s territorial integrity. Spain is one of 5 EU countries that does not recognize Kosovo’s independence.
  • Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic says the protests against his government are politically, not socially, motivated and that he would not step down
  • Prime Minister of North Macedonia Zoran Zaev met with his Albanian counterpart Edi Rama who both expect to open EU accession talks for their respective states in June. 
  • But first, presidential candidates: Three presidential candidates have been confirmed by the Central Eletion Commission in North Macedonia, including the first woman running for the office, VMRO-DPMNE’s Gordana Siljanovska Davkova, andthe SDSM’s Stevo Pendarovski. 
  • Bosnian news outlet Zurnal.info writes that Croatian politicians are complicit in urging Salafi movement believers in Bosnia and Herzegovina to store weapons in mosques.
  • Serbian Transportation Minister Zoran Mihajlovic announced a June groundbreaking for the multi-billion dollar Belgrade-Sarajevo highway. She expects Presidents Aleksandar Vucic (Serbia), Recep Tayyip Erdogan (Turkey) and Milorad Dodik (Bosnian Serb Member of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina) to attend.
  • LNG Terminal Trouble: “Residents and municipal authorities on the Croatian island of Krk, a major tourist destination, have vowed to fight the construction of a floating liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal due to begin in a few weeks.”
  • Slovenia is recovering after losing four ministers since November. Jan Bratanic of Bloomberg writes, “Four ministers have resigned under pressure since November for reasons ranging from a failed procurement tender to poor health, putting the fragile five-party coalition on the spot. One faction, the Social Democrats, has also bickered with the Left, a party whose support the minority ruling alliance requires to pass laws and stay in power.” 
  • President of the European Parliament Antonio Tajini is back in hot water a month after remarks that appeared to claim parts of Croatia and Slovenia as Italian. This time, he said:  “Mussolini? Until he declared war against the whole world following Hitler, until he promoted racial laws [against Jews], apart from the dramatic event of [Giacomo] Matteotti [an opponent killed by the regime], he did positive things to realize infrastructures in our country.”
  • Classified?: “NATO and Bosnia and Herzegovina concluded the Administrative Arrangements for the Protection of Classified Information as part of the Agreement on the Security of Information in March.”
  • Amnesty International released a report that says that the European Union is complicit and supports Croatia pushing refugees and migrants back into Bosnia and Herzegovina. Read the report here.

BEYOND THE POLITICS

  • Commander of NATO forces in Europe, US General Curtis Scapparrotti, voiced concerns about Russia’s destabilizing influence in the Balkans and fears it could try to interfere with North Macedonia’s NATO accession. He spoke at a hearing for the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday.
  • The US State Department has released its 2018 Human Rights Report. See how the Balkan countries did here.
  • Federica Mogherini spoke to the UN Security Council about the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue. She insisted any agreement  “must be in line with international law and has to get the UNSC approval. So, your role is and will be crucial, while we are ready, I am ready, to empower the exchange of contacts with all UNSC member states,” and said that dialogue would resume once Kosovo lifts the tariffs.
  • Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrell was in Serbia where he met with Prime Minister Ana Brnabic and Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic. Borrell noted that the situations of Kosovo and Catalonia are not similar and stressed Spain’s continued support of Serbia’s territorial integrity. Spain is one of 5 EU countries that does not recognize Kosovo’s independence.
  • Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic says the protests against his government are politically, not socially, motivated and that he would not step down
  • Prime Minister of North Macedonia Zoran Zaev met with his Albanian counterpart Edi Rama who both expect to open EU accession talks for their respective states in June. 
  • But first, presidential candidates: Three presidential candidates have been confirmed by the Central Eletion Commission in North Macedonia, including the first woman running for the office, VMRO-DPMNE’s Gordana Siljanovska Davkova, andthe SDSM’s Stevo Pendarovski. 
  • Serbian Transportation Minister Zoran Mihajlovic announced a June groundbreaking for the multi-billion dollar Belgrade-Sarajevo highway. She expects Presidents Aleksandar Vucic (Serbia), Recep Tayyip Erdogan (Turkey) and Milorad Dodik (Bosnian Serb Member of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina) to attend.
  • Croatia celebrates 25 years of partnership with the World Bank.
  • LNG Terminal Trouble: “Residents and municipal authorities on the Croatian island of Krk, a major tourist destination, have vowed to fight the construction of a floating liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal due to begin in a few weeks.”
  • Slovenia is recovering after losing four ministers since November. Jan Bratanic of Bloomberg writes, “Four ministers have resigned under pressure since November for reasons ranging from a failed procurement tender to poor health, putting the fragile five-party coalition on the spot. One faction, the Social Democrats, has also bickered with the Left, a party whose support the minority ruling alliance requires to pass laws and stay in power.” 
  • President of the European Parliament Antonio Tajini is back in hot water a month after remarks that appeared to claim parts of Croatia and Slovenia as Italian. This time, he said:  “Mussolini? Until he declared war against the whole world following Hitler, until he promoted racial laws [against Jews], apart from the dramatic event of [Giacomo] Matteotti [an opponent killed by the regime], he did positive things to realize infrastructures in our country.”
  • Classified?: “NATO and Bosnia and Herzegovina concluded the Administrative Arrangements for the Protection of Classified Information as part of the Agreement on the Security of Information in March.”
  • Amnesty International released a report that says that the European Union is complicit and supports Croatia pushing refugees and migrants back into Bosnia and Herzegovina. Read the report here.

BEYOND THE POLITICS