WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN THE BALKANS TODAY

  • The United States and Serbia signed an agreement “concerning a set of the US regulations in fighting tax evasion” to fall in line with the US Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA). Read the press release (in Serbian) from the Ministry of Finance of Serbia here.
  • The US Embassy in Bosnia and Herzegovina increases efforts to raise awareness about air pollution.
  • 16+1 Summit in Croatia: Chinese Premier Li Keqiang met with Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic.Li said, “Although geographically far away, we are ready to bring our hearts closer and open a diamond period in our relations.” China is aiming to construct the Zagreb -Rijeka (port) railway and will sign a total of 10 agreements while Li is on the trip and have already struck a deal for Croatia to export milk, dairy, and tuna to China.
  • Chinese state-run CGTN quotes Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic: “I have to tell you I’m very much looking forward to saying that visit and when the prime minister of Croatia, the prime minister asked me last year what do you think should we candidate Croatia for the new meeting China plus 16, I said absolutely.”
  • N. MACEDONIA PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS: VMRO-DPMNE candidate Gordana Siljanovska-Davkova discussed the potential exodus of doctors, noting that 83 have asked for permission to leave the country in the last three months.
  • N. MACEDONIA PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS: SDSM candidate Stevo Pendarovski says he would improve the army, not abuse the intelligence services, and call more security council meetings, if elected.
  • EU Commissioner Johannes Hahn on N. Macedonia’s accession process: “The European Commission plans to present its country reports at the end of May. Based on the significant progress that was made, I am very confident that we can table a positive report and clear recommendation to open accession negotiation for Skopje. Following this, it is up to the Member States to take the decision”
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina: Bosniak and Croat Leaders Bakir Izetbegovic and Dragan Covic  had an “unusually honest” conversation on Wednesday.
  • Meanwhile, Covic also met with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic at the margins of an economic fair in Mostar. Covic noted, “We spoke about cooperation between Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia, about our EU integration process, economic cooperation and on how to improve it.” 
  • Serbian President Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic and Ana Brnabic will meet with Kosovo President and Prime Minister Hashim Thaci and Ramush Haradinaj in Berlin at the invitation of France and Germany. 
  • Kosovo Serb Municipality Elections: After Kosovo President Hashim Thaci called elections on May 19 in the four Serb-dominated municipalities in the north, political parties are gearing up. Srpska Lista said it would participate after a press conference in Belgrade with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Director for the Office of Kosovo and Metohija Marko Djuric. Meanwhile, the opposition will boycott the elections.
  • Serbia could open new chapters in its EU accession process on June 18 at the next EU-Serbia intergovernmental conference.
  • Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama takes aim at the slow EU process and places some of the blame of the Kosovo-Serbia standstill on it. He said, “We would not have these 100 percent tariffs if there had been visa liberalization.” But he noted that Albania loves the EU which is why it is dealing with the lukewarmness.
  • The Serbian military is promoting a war criminal’s book written by former General Nebojsa Pavkovic who is currently serving a 22 years sentence issued by a UN War Crimes Tribunal.
  • “Serbian Culture Minister Vladan Vukosavljevic said on Wednesday that he had reached agreement in principle with film director Emir Kusturica to make a movie about the World War 2 Jasenovac death camp and ‘the genocide of the Serb people in the Independent State of Croatia.'”
  • WaPo: “North Macedonia group complains over Muslim leader’s remarks“: the Macedonian Helsinki Committee on Tuesday accused religious leader Sulejman Rexhepi of inciting ‘hatred, discord, and intolerance.’ It quoted him as describing Macedonians as ‘wild animals’ due to their lack of a genuine national identity.”
  • A swastika and Serbian symbol appeared on a mosque in the Bosnian city of Banja Luka on Tuesday.
  • Kosovo will open a museum near the border with North Macedonia for wartime exodus. Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj laid the foundation stone for the site on Tuesday.


BEYOND THE POLITICS