WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN THE BALKANS TODAY

  • Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj is on an official visit to the United States where he met with the ethnic Albanian community, entrepreneurs in Detroit, and will meet senior US officials.
  • From Iowa to Kosovo: Kosovo Advisor Erolld Belegu to the Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj was Iowa seeking to link Iowa companies with Kosovo.
  • Serbia’s Director of the Office of Kosovo and Metohija Marko Djuric was in Washington last week to urge lawmakers and policymakers to convince Kosovo to suspend the 100% tariffs currently in place. He met with Serbian Congressional Co-Chairs Steve Stiver (R, OH-15) and Emmanuel Cleaver (D, MO-5), Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Palmer, and members of the National Security Council.
  • Dusan Stojanovic and the Associated Press have coined the term “Balkan Spring” with a widely circulated articlereporting from Podgorica. It is the first English language comprehensive snapshot of what is commonly referred to as the “envelope affair” that has led to weekend street protests of over 15,000. 
  • In Serbia, protesters marched to City Hall and Pink TV, Protesters in Montenegro call for the resignation of Djukanovic and the management of Montenegro’s public broadcaster.
  • Serbia jails four former Serbian intelligence officers for the murder of journalist Slavko Curuvija in 1999.
  • Neighboring Croatia jailed former Prime Minister Ivo Sanader for corruption.
  • Bosnia will investigate Minister of Interior Dragan Metkic for revealing secret information after accusing Croatian intelligence of a plot inside the country.
  • Montenegro’s Economy Minister Dragica Sekulic: “Montenegro’s interest in SOCAR (State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic) is focused around our activities in the field of gasification, and the implementation of Ionian-Adriatic Gas Projection (IAP). Those two investments, which are part of the Southern Gas Corridor, are crucial to Montenegro’s economic security.”
  • A climate conference in Tirana, Albania with delegations from Albania, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia was disrupted after Kosovo’s symbols were removed.  Kosovo’s climate minister and Albanian representative walked out in protest.
  • Slovenian Magazine Mladina published a cartoon showing Hungarian PM Viktor Orban giving a Nazi salute. The weekend has been spent with diplomats on both sides trying to smooth it over while Slovenia continues to praise “the principle of freedom of the press and expression in its policies.”
  • Croatian Minister of the Interior Davor Bozinovic said: “You saw the news from Greece, namely what is happening on the so-called Balkan route which is potentially the biggest migrant route in Europe. Croatian and Slovenian police have good cooperation at the border and I am confident that Slovenian citizens appreciate what the Croatian police is doing to protect the EU external borders,”
  • Not so free movement – Austria rejects Schengen free movement and will continue border checks with Slovenia and other neighbors until at least November.
  • Prime Ministers of North Macedonia and Greece Zoran Zaev and Alexis Tsipras got support from 33 Members of European Parliament for the Nobel Peace Prize.
  • Two members of the LGBT community were attacked in Sarajevo over the weekend.
  • European Elections: The HDZ, HNS, and Greens in Croatia have put forward candidates for the end of May European Parliament elections. 
  • Meanwhile, Serbia sees the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue stalled until after the elections are over.
  • A G-7 communique states: “Without effective and comprehensive normalization of Belgrade-Pristina relations through the EU-facilitated Dialogue there cannot be lasting stability in the region. We urge Kosovo and Serbia to engage constructively and normalize fully their relations through a comprehensive and legally-binding agreement, so that they can advance on their respective European paths.”
  • One of the five EU members that doesn’t recognize Kosovo, Slovakia, will open a liaison office in Kosovo, according to Kosovo Foreign Minister Behgjet Pacolli.
  • Speaking of NATO, Slovenian Foreign Minister Miro Cerar, who was in Washington last week for the 70th anniversary of NATO, supports enhancing NATO’s deterrence stance.
  • Poland becomes the tenth country to ratify North Macedonia’s NATO accession protocol.
  • Albanian NATO members crossed into Serb-dominated North Mitrovica in Kosovo for a recon mission causing widespread condemnation from Kosovo Serb and Serbian politicians including Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic
  • The Kosovo Islamic community has suspended an Imam who accepts evolution.

BEYOND THE POLITICS

  • Also in cultural news, Philadelphia hosts the first ever Balkan Fest. Bring your dancing shoes.
  • Samuel L. Jackson took to Instagram to announce he started filming for his upcoming movie, “The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard ” in Rovinj, Croatia.