WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN THE BALKANS TODAY

  • Members of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina will meet US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Palmer today. Palmer has been in Bosnia since June 14th. 
  • On Monday, Palmer and US Ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina Eric George Nelson met with several high-level officials across BiH. The US Embassy noted that BiH “needs better trained, more specialized, properly equipped and interoperable police that are responsible and accountable first and foremost to citizens.”
  • The 6th Platinum Wolf military exercises concluded in the area of the southern Serbian town of Bujanovac. Personnel from Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Italy, Hungary, Romania, N. Macedonia, the US, Slovenia and Great Britain were a part of the 257 person exercise.
  • Just south, the Pennsylvania National Guard and the Armed Forces of N. Macedonia participated in the Decisive Strike exercise at the Krivolak base including a total of 2,700 military personnel from the US, Albania, Bulgaria, Montenegro, and Lithuania. President Stevo Pendarovski noted that US Congress is poised to ratify N. Macedonia’s NATO accession protocol in August.
  • DECISION DAY: EU Ministers meet today to discuss the opening of accession talks with N. Macedonia and Albania. The accession date could be opened as early as this or next month, or could be pushed back until the fall. There could be a wildcard – Cyprus has threatened to stall any enlargement unless the EU takes a tougher stance on Turkish drilling.
  • The EU’s Johannes Hahn says that political compromise must be rewarded referring to the Prespa Agreement between N. Macedonia and Greece. He also alluded that Kosovo and Serbia would be rewarded if a deal for normalization was reached. 
  • Albania is facing a political crisis back home. Prime Minister Edi Rama is caught in a wiretapping scandal that implicates him in vote buying and blackmail, and parliament began the procedure to remove President Ilir Meta to resign.
  • According to Prime Minister of N. Macedonia Zoran Zaev, there will be no snap elections. His goal is to “send a clear message to EU member countries that we will not allow nationalism and radicalism to return” and continue with NATO and EU integration.
  • Zeljka Cvijanovic, president of the Serb-dominated entity of BiH called Republika Srpska, met with Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic on Monday. They praised cooperation between the entity and Serbia, particularly in the economic sphere.
  • Speaking of elections, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic says that parliamentary elections will be held in March or April 2020.
  • Also on elections, former Croatian Prime Minister Zoran Milanović announced he will run for president. Elections are slated for January 20, 2020.
  • Croatia’s Minister of Foreign and European Affairs Marija Pejcinovic Buric attended the EU Foreign Affairs Council meeting on Monday which discuss Common Foreign and Security Policy, the implementation of the EU Global Strategy and the situation in Sudan. 
  • An Omani trade team is currently on a visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina where it looks to meet with prominent businesspeople to exchange views on tourism, trade, economic and investment activities
  • Kosovo police prevented displaced Serbs from visiting the ruins of the Orthodox Church in a village near Klina for their village’s saint day. The police statement said, “The Kosovo police did not allow the gathering due to the safety of the citizens, because the church yard was not under control, it was covered with bushes and grass, so the ban on gathering was solely for the purpose of citizens’ safety.”
  • Last year, he displaced people had police protection because there were protests from surrounding villages who eventually threw rocks at those visiting the ruins of the church.
  • Hundreds of Bosnians took to the streets to protest migrants in the northwestern city of Bihac.  
  • CHOO-CHOO!: Infrastructure Minister of Slovenia Alenka Bratušek hopes to add a high speed train between Ljubljana and Maribor.

BEYOND THE POLITICS

  • ‘Bread is practically sacred’: how the taste of home sustained my refugee parents” by Aleksandar Hemon in The Guardian: “My parents’ social life in Bosnia (and therefore their children’s) regularly featured a bunch of their friends getting together for a lot of food and drinking and singing and laughing. Nobody would ever call that endeavour “dinner” – the activity revolved around food, but could never be reduced to it. In Bosnian, the verb that describes such an activity is sjediti, which means to sit, as the whole operation consists of sitting around the table, eating, drinking and being together for the purposes of well-earned pleasure. If I want to invoke an image of my parents being unconditionally happy (not an easy task), I envision them with their friends at a table, roaring with laughter between bites of delicious fare and sips of slivovitz (damson or plum brandy) or grappa.”
  • Going Green: It appears that a green wave could hit Southeastern Europe as prices for renewable energy appear to be on the decline. The region has not hit its full green energy potential.
  • An encouraging sign is that the Foo Fighters concerts in Pula, Croatia will be the first to not use single-use plastic cups. 
  • And Going Paperless: Bitcoin.com released a mini-documentary on Slovenia’s rise as a cryptocurrency leader.