WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN THE BALKANS TODAY

  • US Army paratrooper held a bilateral military exercise with the Slovenian armed forces.
  • US President Donald Trump’s daughter, Tiffany Tump, racked up about $23,000 that taxpayers will have to pay after a recent trip to Serbia.
  • US Ambassador to Kosovo Philip Kosnett met with Serbs in the northern town of North Mitrovica and Gracanica, He met with Srpska List leader Goran Rakic in North Mitrovica before giving an interview to Radio Kontakt Plus.
  • A foreign national has been detainedfor breaking into the US Embassy compound in Podgorica. He is an asylum seeker currently only known as A.N. 
  • RFE/RL: “Chinese Fireworks Seem To Ring In Creeping Balkan Influence“: “When the skies above Sarajevo lit up one night last month in a rainbow of colors, local residents could be forgiven for wondering why. Few knew it was the Chinese New Year.”
  • Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic was in Zrenjanin where Chinese tire company Shandong Linglong Tyre plans to invest.
  • PBS Frontline: “What is Genocide? The Ultimate Crime, Explained“: “In July 1995, Bosnian Serb troops entered the small mountain town of Srebrenica. Gen. Ratko Mladić, the leader of the Bosnian Serb forces during the three-year war in Bosnia, handed out chocolates to children outside of an international peacekeeping base. He promised them they would be safe. Then, in a days-long killing spree, troops under his command executed more than 7,000 Muslim men and boys.It was the worst massacre in Europe since the Holocaust. But was it genocide?”
  • Former Bosnian-Serb leader Radovan Karadzic will appeal his life sentence in the Hague after being found guilty of war crimes including genocide.
  • Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras will lead a delegation to North Macedonia on April 2.
  • Advisors: Bosnian Serb Member of the Presidency Milorad Dodik announced filmmaker Emir Kusturica as an advisor while Bosnian Croat Member of the Presidency Zeljko Komsic announced Serbia’s opposition leader, Cedomir Jovanovic, as his advisor.
  • Bosnia’s Constitutional Court on Friday upheld its decision to ban the Day of Republika Srpska (January 9) on the grounds that it is discriminatory. Republika Srpska Prime Minister Radovan Viskovic says that the day will still be celebrated.
  • Speaking of Republika Srpska, its Minister of Interior Dragan Lukac announced the creation of a reserve police force.
  • The Croatian Foreign Ministry released statement in response to Slovenian Foreign Minister Miro Cerar‘s accusation that a Croatian police boat was in Slovenia’s territorial waters.
  • The European Parliament is in favor of visa liberalization for Kosovo.
  • Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic told a cabinet session that Croatia will not back the Uljanik restructuring plan. The proposal would cost Zagreb $1.14B.
  • Transgender people rallied in Zagreb, Croatia for the first time.
  • Croatia celebrated its 10th Anniversary as a member of NATO. “Croatia remains committed to NATO, which is confirmed by the accelerated investment in our defense capability, which guarantees the security of our country and our ability to fulfill the commitment of common defense,” said President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic.
  • Protests: Thirty-nine opposition parties in Montenegro continued protesting President Milo Djukanovic who they are looking to oust.
  • President Milo Djukanovic made a multi-day visit to Israel meeting with both President Reuven Rivlin and PM Benjamin Netanyahu. Discussions centered on tourism projects and the current state of Montenegro Jewry.
  • No Dice: Kosovo bans gambling after two employees die in a week. Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj is hoping to curb crime in a move that mirrors Albania’s recent ban.
  • Former Minister of interior of North Macedonia Gordana Jankuloska had her term reduced to four years over her role in the $690,000 Mercedes case.
  • Russian State News TASS: “Belgrade cannot recognize Crimea as part of Russia until Kosovo issue is resolved – Vucic
  • Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov was interviewed on the NATO intervention in Yugoslavia, war crimes, and the Russian role.
  • The Speaker of the Parliament of Georgia  Irakli Kobakhidze visited Serbia where he met with Serbian Speaker of Parliament Maja Gojkovic and vowed to deepen ties.
  • Andrej Sisko, a far-right leader in Slovenia, was jailed for 8 months after creating a paramilitary group last January with the aim of overthrowing the government. 

BEYOND THE POLITICS

  • BBC News: The Hidden Meaning in a Pot of Stew:“A national dish of Bosnia, Bosanski lonac is viewed as a metaphor for the Balkan country’s diverse population, which is mostly made up of Bosnian Muslims, Serbs and Croatians.
  • Kosovo-born singer Rita Ora is putting a portion of profits from a handbag collection to Women for Women International in Kosovo.
  • SLOVENIAN SPORTS2000 Slovenians travelled to Miami to watch the Dallas Mavericks play the Miami Heat in the NBA. Slovenia’s biggest stars, Luka Doncic and Goran Dragic, play for the two teams. In the NHL, Anze Kopitar of the Sacramento Kings willplayhis 1,000 game in the league today.
  • A Russian action film about the Russian armed forces taking over the Slatina airfield (near the capital Pristina) in wartime Kosovo makes waves across Serbia and Russia. According to The Times, critics say that truth is the first casualty.