WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN THE BALKANS TODAY

  • Former Kosovo President Atifete Jahjaga, Kosovo War rape survivor Vasfije Krasniqi-Goodman, and US international lawyer Paul Williams addressed the US House Foreign Affairs Committee on Tuesday morning “appealing for an end to impunity for war crimes and human rights abuses in Kosovo.” Read House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel’s (D, NY-16) Full Remarks here. Watch a recording of the hearing here.
  • Newsday: “Justice urged for those killed in Kosovo, including 3 LI (Long Island) brothers
  • N. Macedonia Elections: VMRO-DPMNE’s Dr. Gordana Siljaovska-Davkova urged voters to turn out en masse on second-round presidential elections. SDSM-led coalition’s Stevo Pendarovski said the vote on Sunday is for policy that brings them closer to Europe. The two will face off on Thursday on the TV show “Just the Truth” at 12:30 p.m. EST (6:30 p.m. local time).
  • The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) summit in Sarajevo will be opened on May 8 by Bosnian Prime Minister Denis Zvizdic and EBRD President Suma Chakrabarti. It will be attended by the heads of state from Montenegro, Kosovo, and Serbia, and prime ministers of Albania and N. Macedonia.
  • German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier will start a two-day official visit to Slovenia on May 9.
  • Angela Merkel’s office released a statement and the purpose of the summit was “about engaging openly and honestly in discussion. The underlying idea is that the region can only develop if it does so together.”
  • Montenegro’s President Milo Djukanovic said it was a key moment because two key EU countries will further signal the integration of the Western Balkans into the EU and see their potential path to join.
  • Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj says, “Recognition means respecting existing borders. Revised borders would lead to new ethnic division and maybe incite violence. Recognition is the starting point towards progress: it is not the final point. Without mutual recognition and respect there can be no progress.” 
  •  But Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic rejects Kosovo’s independence: “You (Kosovo) cannot become anything without Serbia… Their position entirely depends on Belgrade, and Belgrade’s position doesn’t depend entirely on Pristina…“there is no new Republika Srpska (the Serb-dominated semi-autonomous entity in Bosnia) or the Community of Serb Municipalities  (in Kosovo) with executive powers.” 
  •  Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Chairman of the Council of Ministers Denis Zvizdic weighed in on Kosovo’s the constant comparison to Republika Srpska, “Considering the calls to recognize Kosovo’s independence, I said Bosnia did not do so because there is no consensus on the matter, and unlike its neighbors, Bosnia does not want to interfere in internal affairs of neighboring countries”
  • He added:  “Of course I condemned the anti-Constitutional actions and behavior of those drawing some new borders over the territories of sovereign states of Bosnia and Montenegro and accession of territories to the map of Serbia, 
  • Members of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina Milorad Dodik and Sefik Dzaferovic, and a representative for Presidency Member Zeljko Komsic will be on an official visit to Turkey on May 2.
  • Croatia’s Foreign and European Affairs Minister Marija Pejcinovic Buric opened the Croatian Embassy and a business forum in Baku, Azerbaijan and relations expanding. Furthermore, it is anticipating flights to the Azerbaijan capital.
  • Where’s Kolinda? The Croatian President is continuing her tour of north Adriatic islands with a focus on demographic renewal.
  • Meanwhile, neighboring Slovenia’s population increased by more than 14,000 in 2018. Migration is the key indicator – 16,300 new foreign citizens were registered
  • Chairman of the Council of Ministers in BiH Denis Zvizdic: “We haven’t formed the Council of Ministers not because we can’t agree on the division of ministries, but because some don’t want to respect the rule of law and don’t want to activate the NATO Membership Action Plan, justifying it with the so-called military neutrality, while arming more than 1,000 auxiliary police officers within the Republika Srpska (RS) entity police.” He added he was against the redrawing of borders along ethnic lines.
  • Voice of Croatia: “A delegation from the China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation visited the ailing Uljanik and Treći Maj shipyards on Tuesday. The goal of their visit to the two shipyards in Pula and Rijeka is to ascertain the exact financial standing of the two companies.”
  • The European Investment Bank (EIB)invested $568 million in Croatia in 2018 that focused on transport, energy, social sectors, and infrastructure.
  • US-based luxury hospitality group Nikki Beach plans to open a resort in Budva, Montenegro.
  • Four were killed and several injured in a bus-truck crash near the town of Kursumlija, Serbia.

BEYOND THE POLITICS

  • The Milwaukee, Wisconsin Croatian Tamburitzans hosted their 34th annual concert in the Midwestern city.
  • Meanwhile, if you’re in Sioux Falls, Idaho, you can see Sara Damjanovic speak about her family’s journey from fleeing Bosnia to opening the Floret Cakery in 2018. 
  • Environmental activist Ana Colovic Lesoska from N. Macedonia wins the Goldman Environmental prize. She “campaigned to halt international lending for two hydropower plants, thereby protecting the habitat of the Balkan lynx.”
  • A centuries old Quran manuscript is on display in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina organized by Turkey’s Yunus Emre Institute.