WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN THE BALKANS TODAY

  • Congressman Paul Gosar (R, AZ-4) met Slovenia’s Foreign Minister Miro Cerar on Monday to discuss strengthening US-Slovenia relations. Gosar recently founded the Friends of Slovenia Caucus in the House of Representatives.
  • On Saturday night the Advisory Council for Bosnia and Herzegovina (ACBiH) held a Gala celebrating strong women and 70 years of NATO. Awardees included former Ambassador to Austria Swanee Hunt, former Ambassador and first female Ambassador to BiH Maureen Cormack,  the 29th Adjunct General of the Maryland National Guard Major General Linda L. Singh, the US Marine Corps Captain Maida Kalic Zheng, and surgeon Dr. Mahira Tanovic. US Special Representative for Ukraine and former US Ambassador to NATO Kurt Volker accepted a lifetime achievement award on behalf of late Senator John McCain (R-AZ). Attendees also included Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Matthew Palmer, governor of the Central Bank of Bosnia, and Mayor of Sarajevo Abdulah Skaka. Read Tea Ivanovic‘s article on it for Oslobodjenje here
  • US Ambassador to Montenegro Judy Rising Reinke says attacks on journalists are unacceptable and the United States would like to see greater media freedom in Montenegro.
  • US Embassy in Kosovo Statement: “As Kosovo commemorates the 20th anniversary of wartime atrocities, the U.S. Embassy extends sincere condolences to the families of victims.   Denying that atrocities occurred insults the memory of victims, further traumatizes families, and undermines progress in building a democratic, multi-ethnic state.  We also urge Kosovo’s leaders from all communities to refrain from incendiary rhetoric.  A commitment to the truth about the wartime past is vital for a peaceful future.”
  • Serbian pro-government tabloids say the fire at the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris was “God’s punishment” for France recognizing Kosovo.
  • Kosovo President Hashim Thaci met European Council President Donald Tusk in Brussels to discuss the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue and visa liberalization. Thaci is optimistic that deal with Belgrade can be achieved this year.
  • Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban met with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and counterpart Ana Brnabic on Monday in Serbia. Orban told a press conference that the EU is ready to take Serbia as soon as possible.
  • N. MACEDONIA ELECTIONS: VMRO-DPMNE candidate Dr. Gordana Siljanovska-Davkova leads a Voice of America survey with 60% of respondents preferring her over SDSM candidate Stevo Pendarovski who received 16%. 22% of the respondents said they would not vote. But a Market Vision poll has Siljanovska-Davkova at 18.6% and Pendarovski at 18% with 26% not responding.
  • The Croatian government adopts an action plan for its EU Presidency which is from January 2020-June 2020. 
  • The Croatian government will allocate nearly $4 million to projects important to Bosnian Croats.
  • But Bosniak leader Bakir Izetbegovic says “The relationship between the two countries could be better. Croatia could show more respect towards Bosnia and could listen to our voice more when it comes to, for example, the Peljesac Bridge.”
  • Reuters: “Canada’s Vermilion Energy will drill its first two exploration wells in Croatia in June, a senior official from the company said on Monday.Vermilion won four license in 2015 for oil and gas exploration in Croatia’s flat northeastern areas and the drilling will take place on one of these.”
  • Migration on the Rise: Western Balkan states – Albania, Montenegro, Kosovo, Macedonia, Serbia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina – accounted for 25% of all foreigners with work visas in 2018 in Germany, up from 9% in 2015. 
  • The brother of Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, Andrej Vucic, was photographed at a restaurant with organized crime boss from northern Kosovo, Zvonko Veselinovic
  • Republika Srpska has the reserve police force on its agenda of the National Assembly.
  • CHINA: Serbia and China Road and Bridge Corporation sign a Memorandum of Understanding to build the Pozegra-Boljare motorway which is estimated to cost $2.3 billion.
  • The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development will assist with the privatization of Kosovo Telecom.
  • The case of former wartime Bosnian Army General Atif Dudakovic and sixteen subordinates began on Monday for over 300 murders and the destruction of Serb Orthodox churches.
  • A former Croatian spy sues the government in the European Court of Human Rights.

BEYOND THE POLITICS

  • Twenty-Seven women were awarded in Tuzla, Bosnia and Herzegovina “in the world of entrepreneurship, politics, culture and science.”
  • RTL Croatia names  Marc Puškarić as its new CEO.
  • Hungry? Why not try to make some Slovenian goulash with sauerkraut? See the recipe here.
  • Eighty-one new flights are coming to Croatia including Dubrovnik-Philadelphia. See where the rest of them are here.