WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN THE BALKANS TODAY

  • NATO experts visit the Ministry of Defense of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
  • The first pride parade in Sarajevo will take place on September 8, 2019. 
  • EULEX hands over war crimes cases to Kosovo’s courts. Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic says she doesn’t “expect anything good” out of it.
  • Slovenian President Borut Pahor and Defense Minister Karl Erjavec have backed the first female Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces, Major General Elenka Ermenc, amid reports she could be dismissed.
  • Montenegro’s Prime Minister Dusko Markovic received OSCE Secretary-General Thomas Greminger on Monday. Markovic reiterated Montenegro’s commitment to protecting journalists and media assets. 
  • Prime Minister of North Macedonia Zoran Zaev expects huge economic benefits after the Prespa Agreement was signed. He foresees large Greek companies to start investing in North Macedonia.
  • Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic: “As far as economy is concerned, I see only great prosperity, huge improvement, better roads and great progress. We have a political problem with the Albanians in Kosovo and Metohija, because we are dealing with people who are irresponsible and think that it is possible to do everything unlawfully. They think it is possible either to persecute Serbs or to do everything they want against Serbia.”
  • Bosnian Serb Member of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina Milorad Dodik says that the more controversy there is around the June 9th Day of Republika Srpska, the stronger it would be celebrated.
  • Croatian Peasant Party of Bosnia and Herzegovina leader Mario Karamatic says that if Bosnia becomes dysfunctional that the Croat National Council will advocate for the resurrection of Herzeg-Bosna.
  • Russian Ambassador to Albania Aleksander Karpushin says that the potential border adjustment between Kosovo and Serbia is a plan proposed by the United States.
  • German Members of Parliament Christian Schmidt and Peter Beyer said that Germany is against any border adjustment after meeting with Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj.
  • Haradinaj says Kosovo wants to be a part of Europe through visa liberalization and joining the European Union.
  • But Head of the EU Office in Kosovo Nataliya Apostolova reiterated on Monday that: “As stated on many occasions, 100 percent tariffs is not only breach of CEFTA, and contrary to the spirit of the SAA…The EU as Kosovo’s largest investment and trade partner is deeply concerned that barriers to free trade, whether imposed by Kosovo or any of its neighbours, hinders the region’s path towards economic integration. It also makes Kosovo less attractive place to invest” 
  • Deputy Prime Minister and Co-head of the dialogue with Serbia Fatmir Limaj disagreed: “There are hundreds of reasons that have forced us to impose the tax…These reasons should cease to exist in order to remove the tax. The tax will not be lifted as long as long as the requests made by Kosovo are not fulfilled. I believe this is clear to everyone. I expect Serbia to reflect.”
  • Sarajevo Times: “The House of Peoples of the Parliament of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina supported by a convincing majority the proposed decision that the Federation be a guarantee for Elektroprivreda BiH’s credit to the bank of China loan of 614 million euros for the planned construction of Block 7 of the Tuzla Thermal Power Plant.”
  • Seven former municipalities are given city status in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

BEYOND THE POLITICS

  • Atlantic Council: “North Macedonia Negates NATO Skeptics” by Teri Schultz: “Ahead of last year’s decisions on changing the name and disputed symbols in what was then commonly called Macedonia, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg made clear the stakes. ‘This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,’ Stoltenberg warned Skopje. ‘Either [Macedonians] support the agreement and they can join NATO, or they don’t support the agreement but then they won’t join it. They cannot get both.’ Government representatives of North Macedonia working the issue confirmed they had been informed in no uncertain terms it was now or never.”
  • PODCAST: “Talk Eastern Europe Episode 9: What’s up in the Western Balkans?” by New Eastern Europe: “This episode takes a closer look at the current developments in the Western Balkans, including the North Macedonian name agreement, the Kosovo-Serbia border swap negotiations and recent protests in Serbia and Montenegro.”
  • Foreign Policy: “The Balkans Are the World Capital of Islamophobia” by Yiannis Baboulias: “It was a sharp shock for Greeks when someone on Twitter noticed the word ‘Turkofagos’ on the rifle of Brenton Tarrant, the man charged with murdering dozens of Muslims in Christchurch, New Zealand, last month. Literally translated, it means “Eater of Turks.” Historically, it was an honorific bestowed upon fighters who distinguished themselves in the Greek 1821 revolution against the Ottoman Empire.”
     
  • Flights: Air France announces new routes including to Belgrade. Meanwhile Fly Emirates will resume its Dubai-Zagreb flight for the summer.
  • Two year old Croatian is seeking treatment for a rare form of leukemia in the United States. The operation costs around $3 million and people from around the world have been donating money. See more information at the Life for Mila website.