WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN THE BALKANS TODAY

  • TENSION IN THE NORTH: Kosovo police arrested 28 people, including 19 police officers in the four majority-Serb municipalities on charges of corruption and smuggling. According to Kosovo Police, twenty were Serbs, seven Albanians, and one Bosniak.
  • Kosovo police were met by armed resistance. Two Kosovo Police officers were injured from gunshots and multiple others injured trying to remove manmade barricades.
  • The UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) confirmed  Russian citizen Mikhail Krasnoshchenkov and a local working for the UN were arrested, then released from custody after demands from UNMIK and the Russian Embassy in Serbia.
  • According to Bota Sot, the General Director of the Kosovo Police Rashit Qalaj said, “In trying to remove barricades, there was a UN car within which there was also a UN official and a local official who works for the UN. They were arrested as participants in the barricades.” 
  • RFE/RL (Video): “Tensions Rise After Police Operation In Northern Kosovo
  • Meanwhile, Serbia put its military and police on high alert after the early morning raids.
  • Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic added, “I guarantee you if an escalation of the conflict occurs, if an attack against the Serbian people occurs, Serbia will win.”
  • But NATO’s KFOR urged calm and said it would intervene if “requested as a third responder.”
  • Serbia also adopted an 82 page report on Kosovo after 13 hours of debate, but does not reveal Belgrade’s plan for the future. 
  • Montenegrin Prime Minister Dusko Markovic urged parliament to go back to the “2016 model” when the opposition held government posts even though there was an absolute majority.
  • Bosnian Serb Member of Presidency (and Chairman) Milorad Dodik says BiH could create the Council of Minister, but will not join NATO
  • Sarajevo Times: “Vice-President of Federation of BiH Melika Mahmuttbegovic held a meeting with a member of the United Arab Emirates family “Ajman” Abdulaziz bin Ali bin Rashid Al-Nuaimi, the government’s environmental advisor.”
  • Meanwhile Bosnian Croat Member of the Presidency Zeljko Komsic condemned the destruction of a monument for Bosnian Croats killed near Prijedor during the wars in the 1990s by the Republika Srpska forces. He called it an “act of hatred.”
  • Slovenian Prime Minister Marjan Sarec met his counterpart from North Macedonia, Zoran Zaev. The pair discussed strong trade links and Slovenia’s support for a fast track to EU accession for North Macedonia.
  • Zaev asserted that North Macedonia’s accession to the EU can only have a positive impact in the Western Balkans as the keynote speech during his two-day visit.
  • The European Commission will release a progress report for the Western Balkans tomorrow. Minister of Foreign Affairs of North Macedonia Nikola Dimitrov expects a positive report and to open negotiations by the end of the year. So does leader of HDZ-BiH Dragan Covic in Bosnia and Herzegovina for his state
  • Back in Slovenia, parliament ratifies an agreement on Serbian migrant workers who could now be tied down to a single company in Slovenia for a period of one year.
  • Further south: Brigadier General Dragutin Drakić, the Army of Montenegro (VCG) Chief-of-Staff, told Kosovo’s Minister of Defense Rustem Berisha and Commander of Security Forces Rahman Rama that Montenegro supports Kosovo’s goal to join NATO.

BEYOND THE POLITICS

  • BBC News Future: “‘I was a Macedonian fake news writer’” by Simon Oxenham: “If you ignored the content, the typical day of a ‘fake news’ writer would seem like any office job. Every morning, Tamara would open her laptop to a fresh email with a link to a spreadsheet. This document contained eight stories based on the other side of the world from her, in the US. The spreadsheet would also contain eight deadlines, each set just a few hours later. Her job was to rewrite each story before her deadline.”
  • Basketball player Pero Antic was elected as the President of the Basketball Association of North Macedonia. He played professional basketball for nearly 20 years, including 3 years in the National Basketball Association for the Atlanta Hawks.