WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN THE BALKANS TODAY

  • US Deputy Assistant of State in the Bureau European and Eurasian Matthew Palmer is in Tirana, Albania, where he urged to opposition to rejoin the political process. On the Kosovo-Serbia Dialogue, he called for local ownership of the process and outcome.
  • N. Macedonia Elections: SDSM candidate Stevo Penderavski aims for the European path: “Only if we move on will we ensure EU membership. It will open up the opportunities for access to the huge European Union funds for agriculture and will give a chance for the placement of our products on the market of 500 million inhabitants. It is therefore important to move forward.”
  • N. Macedonia Elections: VMRO-DPMNE candidate Dr. Gordana Siljanovska-Davkova takes a stance on protecting Macedonians: “As a future president of the state, I will always insist on competence anywhere and everywhere. That’s what I mean by appointing the two judges in the Constitutional Court, three top security experts in the Security Council, and to use the instrument to address the Assembly. I will use this instrument more often, not just once a year, and I will talk about the problems of the citizens.”
  • She added: The fatherland is inseparable from the nations. Often I look back at Bernard Shaw’s words – everything can be changed, you can change ideology, you can change clothes, behavior, but your fatherland will never change.”
  • Premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China Li Keqiang arrived in Croatia on Tuesday to strengthen relations with Croatia, and more broadly throughout Europe with its One Belt One Road Initiative. A 250 strong delegation will be in Dubrovnik for the 16+1 Summit aimed a Central and Eastern European countries.
  • Turkey demands North Macedonia to extradite alleged members of the Gulen movement. Prime Minister Zoran Zaev responded: “Public Prosecutor’s Office is the competent institution for this and we’re expecting to receive a confirmation from this office. Domestic laws, international laws and our friendship with Turkey will be held into account for this.”
  • Slovenia’s Prime Minister Marjan Sarec called a session of the National Security Council and the Foreign Ministry summoned Croatian Ambassador Boris Grigic after reports that Croatia allegedly tried to stop Slovenian media from covering the phone tapping scandal during arbitration over the Piran Bay. The Croatian government refutes all claims made by Slovenia.
  • At the end of the day, Slovenia recalls its ambassador to Croatia over the allegations now dubbed the “Croatian Watergate” scandal.
  • In another scandal involving Croatian intelligence, Bosnian Croat Member of Presidency Zeljko Komsic calls for “BiH (Bosnia and Herzegovina) judicial and security agencies to protect citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina who are attacked by intelligence services of other states.”
  • Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj dismissed his Minister of Local Government Administration, Ivan Todosijevic, for calling Albanians terrorists and denying the Racak Massacre during the 1999 war. Todosijevic is a member of Srpska Lista which sharply criticized Haradinaj’s decision.
  • Kosovo Serb party Srpska Lista will meet with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic before the early elections for the four northern Kosovo municipalities called by Kosovo President Hashim Thaci for May 19.
  • While at the 22nd annual International Fair of Economy in  Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic was asked about Bosnian Serb Member of Presidency Milorad Dodik’s comments on redrawing borders after a journalist said he supported Dodik’s position. Vucic’s response: “If you ask me what Serbia thinks about changing the borders in the Balkans, we consider it very important that everyone respects the territorial integrity of Serbia, while Serbia respects the territorial integrity of everyone else. So it has been and I hope that so it will remain…I think this is a bad message and that nobody should violate anyone’s territorial integrity in any way.” 
  • Meanwhile Dodik accused the main Bosniak party, the SDA, of manufacturing illegal arms which was denied by SDA leader Bakir Izetbegovic. The SDA leader and Bosniak Member of the Presidency Sefik Dzaferovic canceled their visit.
  • Serbia’s military rejects any notion of a coup attempt. They said in a statement: “The Army of Serbia (VS), as keeper of peace and stability, will not allow any attempt at a coup d’etat and is warning anyone announcing or calling for one that they could be held accountable under the law,”
  • Chairman of Bosnia Council of Ministers Denis Zvizdic awarded 4G (not a typo, not 5G) licenses for coverage across 60% Bosnia. The goal is that 90% of Bosnia will be covered within five years. Chinese state run Xinhua reports.
  • Senior Commander of the Kosovo Liberation Army and current Kosovo MP Blerim Kuci was questioned by the Specialist court in the Hague. He used his right to remain silent, according to Gazeta Express.
  • North Macedonia says it will rename its national stadium from Philip II Stadium to Tose Proseki National Arena. Philip II was the father of Alexander the Great while Tose Proseki is a Macedonian singer who tragically died at the age of 26 in 2007.
  •  A United Arab Emirates ministerial delegation arrived in Belgrade and meetings began to increase relations between the UAE and Serbia, particularly in mining and information technology.
  • With the support of UNESCO, Slovenia will set up the first international Artificial Intelligence center. PM Marjan Sarec made the big announcement at the 70th anniversary of Jožef Stefan Institute. 

BEYOND THE POLITICS

  • A new podcast, Sarajevo Calling, by academic Jasmin Mujanovic and jounralist Aleksandar Brezar released its first episode. New episodes come out bi-weekly.
  • Most likely a first, over 2,000 Slovenians descend on Miami. ESPN explains what happened next.
  • Speaking of Slovenia, National Geographic profiles the unique nature and ecotourism of the country.