WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN THE BALKANS TODAY

  • Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic was sentenced to life imprisonment after an appeal process in the Hague for genocide and war crimes. He was originally sentenced to 40 years in 2016. RFE/RL notes, “the court rejected an appeal by prosecutors to overturn Karadzic’s earlier acquittal on a second genocide charge related to the killings of Bosnian Muslims and Croats in 1992 in the territory of Republika Srpska.”
  • The US Embassy in Sarajevo wrote: “The U.S. Embassy in Bosnia and Herzegovina welcomes today’s verdict by the Appeals Chamber of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (Mechanism) in the case of Radovan Karadžić.  The ruling represents an important step toward holding to account those individuals responsible for the tremendous suffering of the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina, while providing some sense of justice and closure to victims and their families.”
  • Bosniak Member Sefik Dzaferovic of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina noted: “he lack of a legal qualification for genocide for Prijedor, Bratunac, Zvornik, Vlasenica, Sanski Most, Ključ and Foča, as well as throughout BiH, does not diminish the responsibility of the commanders and the perpetrators or the gravity of the crimes…I do not see this verdict as a verdict to the Serbian people but as a verdict for a political project created by Milosevic’s regime in Belgrade, which was conducted in Bosnia and Herzegovina by Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic.” 
  • High Representative Valentin Inzko had a similar message: “Today’s decision of the Appeals Chamber represents an important moment and hopefully offers a sense of closure for all the victims and survivors of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity in BiH. No court decision can bring back the loved ones of the survivors, but it can give some measure of redress. Concurrently, by affirming individual responsibility rather than collective guilt, the Court’s decision should bring relief to all decent people. There are no bad nations, only bad individuals.” 
  • Meanwhile, Minister of Security in BiH Dragan Mektic will submit information today to the Council of Ministers on Croatian intelligence activities in Bosnia. Croatian intelligence is accused of a plot to store arms in a Salafi mosque to make Bosnia appear as a home for Islamic extremism. 
  • Seven citizens of North Macedonia have pleaded guilty to joining and fighting ISIS. They face up to five years in prison if convicted. 
  • The Thursday deadline for for submitting presidential nominations in North Macedonia is approach quickly. 
  • The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) will invest $1.25 billion in the Western Balkans in 2019. 
  • Kosovo Serb politicians from rival parties were involved in a physical altercation in a restaurant in Pristina on Wednesday.
  • Slovenian Prime Minister Miro Cerar denies that Slovenia will withdraw recognition of Kosovo.
  • Slovenia Times: “In a novel situation for Slovenia, which has never before had a minority government, the coalition parties are signing, reportedly today, their first detailed plan of cooperation with the opposition Left. The plan for 2019 is marked by welfare-oriented measures, ranging from affordable housing to higher pensions.”
  • A decision on the future of the Uljanik Shipyard in Pula, Croatia could be achieved by Thursday.
  •  Former Ambassador of Montenegro in Brussels (NATO) and Vienna (OSCE) Vesko Garcevic gave an interview on China’s investment in the Balkans for a documentary called The Silk Road or the Silk Cord that aired on Montenegrin TV this week.

BEYOND THE POLITICS

  • Kristijan Findanovski in European Western Balkans: “‘Macedonian Scenario’ unraveling in Serbia, but not the one Vučić has in mind”: “Every democratic country has its own democratic challenges. But autocratic regimes are all alike. No one puts more faith in the accuracy of this assertion than protesters throughout the Western Balkans, who have been rallying in the streets over the last couple of weeks. Inspired by the success of North Macedonia’s ‘Colorful Revolution,’ which led to the overthrow of Nikola Gruevski’s regime through democratic elections in 2016 without shedding a drop of blood, protesters in Montenegro, Albania, and Serbia are surely hoping for a ‘Macedonian scenario.’”