WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN THE BALKANS TODAY

  • Former US Vice President Joe Biden wrote a letter to Prime Minister of North Macedonia Zoran Zaev praising the Prespa Agreement and that “I will personally stand with you as you fulfill your commitment to a brighter future.”
  • US Ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina Erik George Nelson met with Chairman of the Council of Ministers of Bosnia Denis Zvizdic. They discussed increasing cooperation
  • UK Ambassador to Kosovo Ruairi O’Connell said time is up for the UK and international community to prioritize combating corruption and the onus falls on Kosovo: “Responsibility is no longer divided with third parties and actors. Praise and criticism – both belong to you.”
  • Financial Times: “Brussels says EU has ‘underestimated’ China’s reach in Balkans“: EU Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn told FT that the EU “overestimated Russia and underestimated China” and was worried that smaller Balkan nations would not be able to repay its loans to the Chinese.
  • Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic was in Brussels where he met EU Commission President Donald Tusk. It is the first time he met with Tusk since June. 
  • Meanwhile, back in Montenegro, the opposition boycotted a parliamentary session on the heels of massive protests in Podgorica. 
  • Russian spies are all over Kosovo, according to a Radio Television Kosovo.
  • Kosovo commemorates Adem Jashari, a former Kosovo Liberation Army Commander. Fifty members of his family were killed along side him on March 7, 1998. . 
  • EUROPEAN ELECTIONS: The Slovenian Left party said its top candidate is Violeta Tomic while party leader Luka Mesec will also run, but prefers to stay in Slovenia. Prime Minister Marjan Sarec’s party will release its candidate on  March 21.
  • Members of the Bosnian special police, or Sipa, raided the Ministry of Defense looking for evidence of abuse of position or authorization.
  • The Slovenian Parliament has approved the Culture Minister candidate, Zoran Pozanic. His main priorities include “culture euro” and cutting the red tape. 
  • There was a bomb scare in a courtroom in the northern city of Novi Sad, Serbia causing a panic.
  • Reuters highlights that Serbia’s dumping of cattle bones and putrid pools could be a barrier for EU accession because of environmental implications.

BEYOND THE POLITICS

  • BBC Travel: “Is Kosovo’s capital city the ugliest in Europe?“:  “Pristina, Kosovo has the distinction of often being dismissed as one of Europe’s ugliest capitals. It’s certainly a place I never thought I’d visit. My only reference point of the place was from some dark, distant corner of my mind, remembering tragic news coverage of the Kosovo War in the late 1990s after years of ethnic cleansing that displaced some 750,000 ethnic Albanians. For years, Kosovo’s ethnic Albanian majority had vied for control of the region against Serbs, who, despite only making up 10% of the population, viewed Kosovo as the cradle of their cultural identity.”
  • Electric trains from China will arrive in North Macedonia by April. They will be used to transport freight.
  • Slovenia Times: “Slovenia is making efforts to host an UNESCO-sponsored research centre for artificial intelligence. Jernej Pikalo, the minister of education, science and sport, held talks to that effect with UNESCO director general Audrey Azoulay on Monday.”
  • A day of prayer was held for Slovenia in Southern Australia: “Pastor Franc Ahlin spoke about Slovenia being a beautiful, but poor country. He gave a brief family history, with his mother being from a wealthy family and a father who was a peasant.  Slovenia merged with Yugoslavia and was mainly Catholic, they had a unique language and culture that was repressed during World War II. Pastor Franc’s dad was imprisoned and almost executed several times, he even survived a firing squad as he fainted.  He was released about Easter time but became ill and was hospitalised to recuperate. Others who were released were killed.”