WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN THE BALKANS TODAY

  • Prime Minister of Greece Alexis Tsipras became the first Greek Prime Minister to visit North Macedonia. He took a selife with his counterpart, Prime Minister of North Macedonia, Zoran Zaev. They also signed multiple agreements and Tsipras said Greece would protect the airspace of North Macedonia.
  • Deutsche Welle notes: “Tsipras traveled to Skopje with 10 Greek Cabinet ministers and a large business delegation. Greece is expected to sign several cooperation agreements, including for military training, and firm up about €500 million ($559 million) worth of investments with North Macedonia, which is much smaller and poorer than Greece.”
  • Voice of America reports that Serbia hired Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP to lobby for Serbia in Washington DC on regional issues including Kosovo. Unnamed government officials deny this and say any lobbying efforts are based on the 100% tariffs Kosovo has on Serbia.
  • But a Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA) search reveals this foreign registration from March 28, 2019. A letter from Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP to State Attorney of Serbia Olivera Stanimirovic states: “We are delighted that the Republic of Serbia (“Serbia” or “you”) has retained our Firm to represent it in connection with U.S. matters (including communications vis-a-vis the government of the United States ofAmerica) arising in connection with a dispute with the Kosovo and Metohija region (outside Serbia often referred to as “Kosovo*”) over certain regional cooperation issues, including trade restrictions imposed by the acting Kosovo* authorities on, in particular, Serbian origin goods and services (the “Engagement”). We look forward to working with you and your colleagues.”
  • The announcement of the first Pride Parade in Sarajevo caused mixed responses. Member of Parliament Samra Cosovic-Hajdarovic, and in the same party as formerBosniakMember of Presidency Bakir Izetbegovic’s SDA party, wrote, “I want such people to be isolated and removed as farther from our children and community. Let them go elsewhere and let them make a city, a state, laws and rights for themselves that nobody would dispute. But NOT here.”
  • An organizational committee responded: “It is horrible that one MP and a representative of the people who were detained, isolated and removed during the past war is now advocating for the use of the very same methods towards another social group,” 
  • Rapporteur for Kosovo and Member of European Parliament Igor Soltes says it is up to the European Council to decide on Kosovo’s visa liberalization: “We are still waiting for the EU Council decision, in order to start trialogue negotiations…At this point it is with the EU Council and EU members to decide, because they should give the green light in order to conclude the visa liberalisation process for Kosovo.”
  • Nasdaq/Reuters: ” The economies of the Western Balkans are likely to expand faster than the European Union in 2019-20 but the outlook may be vulnerable to threats including popular unrest, the World Bank said on Tuesday.”
  • Former Kosovo Prime Minister Bajram Kosumi doesn’t see why it’d be a bad idea for Kosovo, Albania, Montenegro, and North Macedonia to go into a confederation. In a text written for the Balkan Leadership Conference in Tirana, he says: “Why a modern confederate is possible in the countries where Albanians are present and are majority? Because it is Albanians who have the strategic interest to preserve independence and friendly relations with North Macedonia and Montenegro, because of the Albanians living in these two countries and because of the appetites of Serbia and influence of other countries,” according to Gazeta Express.
  • Montenegro’s Football Association (Soccer) General Secretary Momir Djurdjevac issued an apology after accusations of racism during a match against England. “I’m not saying it didn’t occur..They were a handful of idiots and because of those three or four idiots, Montenegro has been pilloried…For the sake of all of us and the sake of the media I would like to apologise to all those who have gained a very bad impression from Podgorica and let the disciplinary inspectors of UEFA do their work unfettered.”
  • He continued to invite people back to see the beauty of Montenegro: “I would like them to come to Montenegro again, so we can enjoy watching them play, so we can greet them with cheers… In case it is proven that they were insulted in Montenegro, that was an act of a few individuals, a few fools, for whom there would be no space in our stadium any more”
  • Two-year-old Croatian Mila Roncevic travels to Philadelphia after people raised 35 million Kuna ($5,285,000) for her chemotherapy treatment in just four days.


BEYOND THE POLITICS

  • Six Minnesota teams are in Slovenia competing in the Alpine snowboarding championships
  • A BBC documentary on the murder of British TV presenter Jill Dando says includes a theory that it was Serbian revenge for the NATO bombings after the Radio Television Serbia building was bombed.