WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN THE BALKANS TODAY

  • Congressman Ed Case (D, HI-1) visited Kosovo over the weekend. He met with the Hawaiian National Guard at Camp Bondsteel, Kosovo officials, and a USAID agricultural project.
  • Also in Kosovo, National Democratic Institute President Ambassador Derek Mitchell met with former Kosovo President Atifete Jahjaga
  • NATO EXERCISES: “At the initiative of Nato, a series of national and multinational military exercises will be held in Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Croatia, Slovenia and North Macedonia in May and June 2019, to strengthen security measures in South Eastern Europe and the Black Sea region, Bulgaria’s Ministry of Defence said.”
  • Three NATO ships will sail are planning to visit Croatia. One Dutch frigate and one Canadian frigate will be in Split today. Meanwhile, a British destroyer is scheduled to arrive and stay between May 17-18. 
  • More on Dodik’s rhetoric from RFE/RL: “Bosnian Serb Leader’s Call For Wartime Uniforms Tugs At Bosnia’s Nationalist Threads”
  • Meanwhile, Serbian Defense Minister Aleksandar Vulin sharply criticized US Ambassador Kyle Scott for questioning why convicted war criminal General Vladimir Lazarevic participated in a military parade: “Be quiet. Nobody’s saying anything about proven war criminals running Kosovo and Metohija, about the creation of Greater Albania – but you must forbid the Serb people the right to remember?”
  • Russia will begin surveillance over BiH as a part of the Open Skies Treaty signed in 1992 and made effective in 2002. It will last until May 17. Simultaneously, Russia will began surveillance over the US on May 12 and will last until May 20. All signatories are allowed to view collected data.
  • Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau skipped Monday parliament questions for a closed door meeting with Croatian President Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic. Grabar Kitarovic later shared a photo of the two meeting on Twitter.
  • And she continued on Twitter: “I believe that our two countries have a growing potential for strengthening mutual economic cooperation, particularly in the fields of trade, industry, energy, information technology and tourism.”
  • Meanwhile, Montenegrin Prime Minister Dusko Markovic is on his way to Germany to meet Bundestag President  Wolfgang Schaeuble to discuss bilateral relations and Montenegro’s continued path to the European Union.
  • Deputy Foreign Minister of North Macedonia Andrei Zernovski is optimistic that his country will soon receive a date for the start of EU accession talks.
  • Albania on Fire via the AP: “Anti-government protesters in Albania hurled gasoline grenades and flares at riot police in front of the main government building and national police headquarters Monday, hours after U.S. diplomats and European Union lawmakers appealed for order and calm.Thousands of demonstrators, many holding umbrellas, marched in driving rain that at times mixed with clouds of white smoke from flares. Police officers did not respond.”
  • Russia Today took an interest to the protests and live streamed the unfolding events for nearly an hour.  
  • Germany refutes Kosovo President Hashim Thaci’s claim that the US wasn’t involved in the Berlin Summit: “The Government of Germany, of course, was in close and continuous coordination with the United States at different levels, including here also the situation in Western Balkans.”
  • Meanwhile, Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama calls for the abolition of borders: “I don’t want borders with Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia. We should work to make this happen.”
  • The Uljanik shipyard in Pula has entered bankruptcy. Its sister shipyard, 3. May, is expected to go into bankruptcy in the coming weeks.
  • Reuters: “Environmentalist groups on Monday filed a complaint with the European Union’s energy watchdog challenging the legality of a power purchase agreement for a planned $1.3 billion coal-fired power plant in Kosovo.”
  • The electoral campaign for the extraordinary elections in Kosovo’s four northern elections kicked off today. The elections are planned for Sunday, May 19th.
  • Two former Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) soldiers, including Ahmet Rrahmanaj, will be interviewed by the Specialist Court in the Hague this week.
  • The 10th Zagreb Energy Week conference kicked off. This EU Initiative focuses on  sustainable cities and increasing energy efficiency.

BEYOND THE POLITICS

  • Two representatives of Stari Grad on the island of Hvar in Croatia signed a sister city agreement with Tacoma, Washington. It is Tacoma’s 15th sister city.
  • Heavy rain has caused flooding in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Over 200 homes have been flooded, with the worst yet to come.
  • The first LED power plant is coming to Bosnia and Herzegovina. It will open in the capital city of Sarajevo.
  • Faster than ever before in its 57 year history, Zagreb’s Franjo Tudjman International Airport welcomed its one millionth passenger of the year. The passenger arrived from Dublin and was greeted with pomp and circumstance.
  • Mirror: “Best cities in Croatia for short breaks that need to be on your radar”
  • SPOILER ALERT – Esquire: “The ‘Game Of Thrones’ Creators Explain Daenerys’ Impulsive Decision To Destroy King’s Landing“: …The video also explains how they went about filming the destruction we see in episode 5 as the city is scorched and crushed. They weren’t able to use the original King’s Landing location of Dubrovnik in Croatia (as Benioff helpfully explains, “they don’t want us to, you know, burn it down”) so instead they built a backlot with a set replicating a huge area of the city.”