WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN THE BALKANS TODAY

  • US Embassy in Kosovo statement: “The United States remains deeply concerned by the Government of Kosovo’s appointments of unqualified individuals to senior government positions – including individuals convicted of war crimes, under active indictment for serious crimes, and suspected of serious abuses of power.”
  • It continues, “In a democracy, individuals appointed to high-level positions should project an ethical and qualified face to the world; Kosovo’s pattern of appointments, unfortunately, presents the opposite.  Unqualified individuals, those whom the judiciary has punished or is actively pursuing for serious crimes, as well as those who have demonstrated willingness to act with impunity and abuse their authority, have no place in public office.  Nominating these unqualified individuals undermines the public trust Kosovo is attempting to build, deprives the country of competent and reputable individuals best qualified to perform the work of government, and dishonors the victims of these individuals’ past offences.  Further, it impedes Kosovo’s progress toward building an international reputation that would make it a desired partner of other nations, and strengthens the position of adversaries who would claim Kosovo is not committed to the rule of law.”
  • But Kosovo Ambassador Vlora Citaku sat next to US President Donald Trump at the Iftar dinner at the White House. 
  • Republika Srpska Lobbying: Texas based law firm McGinnis Lochridge signed an $80,000 month deal with Republika Srpska saying it would “represent Republika Srpska and work with its designated representatives to provide general advice and representation regarding international legal and policy matters as requested by the Government from time to time.” The original Foreign Agent Registration Act document can be read here.
  • N1: “President Aleksandar Vucic told retired US Lt. General Frederick Ben Hodges in Belgrade on Tuesday that Serbia will maintain its military neutrality but is prepared to respond to common security challenges, a press release from the president’s cabinet said. Vucic told Hodges, a former commander US Army Europe who now holds the Pershing Chair in Strategic Studies at the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA), that Serbia is prepared to contribute to maintaining the peace and stability of the region, the press release said adding that they also discussed problems in the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue.”
  • European Commissioner for Enlargement Johannes Hahn says that the European Commission will recommend North Macedonia and Albania to open accession talks with the EU.
  • Croatian President Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau were in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada on Tuesday to meet with the Croatian-Canadian community and were hosted by Canadian MP Bob Bratina, the only Canadian MP of Croatian heritage.
  • HAPPY ARMED FORCES DAY SLOVENIA! Slovenian President Borut Pahor addressed the military at Cerklje ob KrkiMilitary Airfieldwhere he said that the Slovenian Armed Forces should modernize to perform missions of the highest intensity with excellence.
  • President of Russia Vladimir Putin and Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan discussed Bosnia and Herzegovina. According to Erdogan’s press service: “On the government crisis in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Erdogan said it was essential for the region to increase its cooperation with international organizations for peace and stability.”
  • Bosnia has declared a national emergency over flooding and Croatia has taken emergency measures near the Bosnian border where flooding is expected. The floods are not worse than 2014, the worst floods to hit the region in 120 years.
  • On a different note, Bosnia has accused Croatia of violating a dual citizenship agreement signed in 2012 saying that Croatia requires Bosnian citizens to renounce citizenship in favor of Croatian citizenship.
  • Reuters: “Foreign direct investment in Slovenia increased sharply in 12 months ending with March 2019 because of several large takeovers, the Bank of Slovenia said in a report on Tuesday.In those 12 months, foreign investment increased by 1.5 billion euros ($1.68 billion), compared with an increase of 428 million euros in the period from April 2017 till March 2018, the report said.”
  • In Croatia, “Hyundai Motors and Kia Motors have signed an 80 million Euros investment deal with Croatian electric car manufacturer Rimac Automobili in a bid to transition to ‘clean mobility.'”
  • Reuters: “An Azeri company opening a 1 billion euro superyacht marina in Montenegro this month expects the project to pave the way for at least two more luxury resorts as it vies with Dubai and China for a slice of the tiny Balkan country’s growing economy.”
  • KosSev examines why reciprocal measures haven’t been imposed against Kosovo’s 100% tariff.

BEYOND THE POLITICS

  • Info Migrants: “Migrants kidnap Slovenian, enter Italy, get sent back“: “Four undocumented migrants originally from North Africa allegedly forced a 79-year-old Slovenian national to hand over his car near the Slovenian town of Mali Nerajec. They then locked him in the trunk and headed towards Italy, trying to enter illegally. They were stopped Italian police on a side road, who handed them over to their Slovenian counterparts.” 
  • Philip Rosenberg in the Times of Israel Blog: “Jewish Belgrade: There is life after death“: “Like much of Europe, a Jewish visit to Serbia’s capital Belgrade inevitably carries with it the tinge of sadness at what was lost in the Shoah. 14,500 out of 16,000 of the pre-war community were murdered by the Nazis.But my recent visit, principally to address a German Marshall Fund seminar on European minority rights, showed me that in Jewish Belgrade, there is life after death.”
  • Maxim Samorukov in European Leadership Network: “Double or quits: A Russian approach to North Macedonia and NATO“: “In February 2019, North Macedonia signed the NATO accession protocol. Russia condemned the Macedonian government for taking this step, whilst themselves being accused of spreading disinformation and support for Macedonian radical nationalists, bogging down the country’s drive towards NATO. It is unlikely, however, that Russia will sustain its current level of interest and pressure on North Macedonia. With the Western Balkans ranking low on its list of foreign policy priorities, Russia seemingly shifts its attention to the region only when local crises allow for a low-cost intervention. Once these conflicts are resolved, it quickly loses interest.”
  • UEFA has chosen Slovenian referee Damir Skomina for the Champions League final between English clubs Liverpool and Tottenham to be played in Madrid on June 1st. He will be assisted by two compatriots and a Spaniard as the fourth official.
  • This Worcester (Massachusetts) café makes latte art that’s almost too pretty to drink“: “Life is too short for bad coffee.That’s the message brothers Hasan and Valon Dalipi have for customers at STOP Café in Worcester, where the beverages are not only tasty — they’re almost too pretty to drink…Originally from Kosovo, the brothers owned cafés in their home country before moving to the United States several years ago. Valon Dalipi said he’s spent the last four years in Worcester and thought the time was right to open up shop in the city.”