WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN THE BALKANS TODAY


HAPPY 70TH BIRTHDAY TO NATO!

  • Foreign Ministers and Ambassadors from NATO members and future members descended on Washington for NATO events and had the opportunity to meet with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, including Foreign Minister of Albania Gent Cekaj, Croatia Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign and European Affairs Marija Pejcinovic Buric, Foreign Minister of Slovenia Miro Cerar, while Foreign Minister of North Macedonia Nikola Dimitrov was on a panel for enlargement. 
  • But, Foreign Minister of North Macedonia Nikola Dimitrov met with Acting Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Philip T. Reeker and Congressman Brendan Boyle (D – PA, 2) while on a working visit to the United States where NATO at 70 events are being held.
  • In an interview with Belgrade-based CorD Magazine, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Matthew Palmer says it’s time to get a Serbia-Kosovo deal done and reiterated that the deal must be “locally owned.”
  • US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Thomas Countryman says that a border swap is out of the question because it would destabilize the region.
  • Kosovo news outlet Zeri is reporting that former Secretaries of State Madeline Albright and Hillary Clinton will be in Kosovo for a commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the end of the Kosovo War.
  • Slovenia has accused Croatian intelligence of wiretapping its officials during the Piran Bay arbitration. This is on the heels of Bosnia and Herzegovina accusing Croatian intelligence of attempting to plant weapons in mosques.
  • Bosnian Croat Member of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina Zeljko Komsic was hospitalized on Tuesday. There is currently no update on his situation.
  • AGROKOR: The food chain based in Croatia has been renamed to Fortenova Group and Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic met with new Chairman Maxim Poletaev
  • Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic will be in Russia on April 17 and 18. 
  • Speaking of Russia, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says that Montenegro and North Macedonia will be forced to buy US-made weapons. 
  • Speaker of Parliament of North Macedonia Talat Xhaferi met with Minister of Defense of Turkey Hulusi Akar to discuss NATO and good neighborly relations.
  • The UN War Crimes Court in the Hague denied Radovan Karadzic’s attempt to appeal his life sentence.
  • Sarajevo Times: “Republika Srpska President Zeljka Cvijanovic held on Tuesday in Banja Luka a meeting with representatives of parliamentary political parties in RS.The President of the Republika Srpska said that the united commitment of all political factors in the RS is signed, adding that they concluded they will continue to celebrate the Day of the Republic, that it is January 9th, and that it is a historical fact, and that it is not in the mandate of the BiH Constitutional Court to decide on it.”
  • According to Gazeta Express, Tony Blair’s wife has been an advisor to the Specialist Court in Kosovo.
  • Police in North Macedonia confirm that the Bulgarian family of four died in a plane crash on Tuesday. Their bodies were recovered. 
  • Kosovo police arrest five for organ trafficking and illegal transplanting.
  • In the first three months of 2019, 1,552 illegal migrants entered Bosnia and Herzegovina while 2,471 were prevented from crossing into Bosnia and Herzegovina.  

BEYOND THE POLITICS

  • Brookings Institute Blog by Molly Montgomery: “Europe whole and free: Why NATO’s open door must remain open“: Like many people, each time NATO approaches a big birthday the institution and those close to it experience a certain amount of existential angst. And no decision has inspired more intellectual hand-wringing than the enlargement of NATO to include former Eastern Bloc countries.”
  • Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic says that the wars of the 1990s will always scar him. 
  • Slovenia Times: “Visitors of the famous Postojnska Jama caves will be able to access yet another well hidden secret as of today, but this time of a very different kind. A museum of eavesdropping will open at Jama Hotel right next to the caves after a “non-existing” phone surveillance nest of the communist secret police was discovered during renovation works.”