WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN THE BALKANS TODAY

  • White House Press Release: “Text of a Notice on the Continuation of the National Emergency with Respect to the Western Balkans“: “The actions of persons threatening the peace and international stabilization efforts in the Western Balkans, including acts of extremist violence and obstructionist activity, continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States… Therefore in accordance with section 202(d) of the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1622(d)), I am continuing for 1 year the national emergency with respect to the Western Balkans declared in Executive Order 13219.”
  • Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Palmer was scheduled to meet with the Members of the BiH Presidency on Tuesday, but it was cancelled due to Chairman of the Presidency Milorad Dodik‘s trip to Hungary where he met Prime Minister Viktor Orban. At a joint press conference, Dodik suggested to “strengthen the mutual relations between Banja Luka and Budapest.”
  • Kate Byrnes was sworn in as new Ambassador of the US to N. Macedonia at the US State Department.
  • “The multinational exercise (Platinum Wolf) of 502 Soldiers included 80 members of the Ohio National Guard’s 838th Military Police Company out of Youngstown, Ohio, who worked in tandem with other countries to master peacekeeping skills like: detention operations, crime scene investigations, Military Operations on Urban Terrain, Crowd and Riot Control, patrolling, and Traffic Control Point/Vehicle Check Point.”
  • Most likely a first in American history…Kosovo features prominently in Congressional campaign launch. Kim Olson running against Congressman Kenny Marchant (R-TX, 24) speaks about coordinating the “largest bombing campaign since WWII…a battle we won without a single loss of life”.
  • AP/WaPo: “A Serbian court on Tuesday acquitted a former U.S. Marine charged with illegal possession and distribution of weapons, saying there was not enough evidence.”
  • The EU keeps N. Macedonia and Albania in the waiting room until at least autumn for a decision on the date of accession talks. European Commissioner for EU Enlargement Johannes Hahn noted there is hope for  “a clear and substantive decision as soon as possible and no later than October 2019.”
  • Nevertheless, Kosovo President Hashim Thaci is confident there can be success at the July 1 meeting in Paris.
  • The Peace Implementation Council Steering Board in BiH met yesterday and today and discussed a range of issues including greater communication between communities in BiH and the need to create parliamentary and executive authorities without delay. For a full recap, click here.
  • Russia did not join the Communique, though, fearing it was “biased and one-sided, not reflecting the true state of things in Bosnia, not dealing with the current issues and basically not contributing to the strengthening of inter-ethnic reconciliation and constructive dialogue.”
  • Croatian HDZ party expects current president, Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, to run for a second mandate in the presidential elections next April. She welcomes anyone who meets the Constitutional requirements to run for president.
  • Grabar-Kitarovic is in Estonia where she met her counterpart Kersti Kaljulaid on Tuesday. Kaljulaid said  “Estonia and Croatia have made great advancements since the beginning of diplomatic relations in 1991. We are both members of the same international organizations, such as the UN, the World Trade Organization, the EU, and NATO. You are here exactly six months before Croatia assumes the presidency of the European Union. We know how that is, and we are here to provide our support,”
  • Britain’s Lord Tariq Ahmad arrived in Sarajevo to mark the UN’s Day for Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict. The Lord will attend an OSCE conference, meet with the BiH Presidency, Chairman of the Council of Ministers Chairman of the Council of Ministers, and Defense Minister Marina Pendes
  • The OSCE issued a comprehensive report on the management of war crimes cases at Prosecutor’s Office of Bosnia and HerzegovinaThe Head of the OSCE Mission to BiH, Bruce G. Berton stated, “I call upon all relevant institutions, most notably the High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council of BiH, the BiH Prosecutor’s Office, and the Court of BiH to seriously consider this report, and the ramifications of the current practice concerning war crimes case processing on victims, as well as on the legacy of the BiH judiciary.”
  • Vietnamese money to Republika Srpska? Vietnamese billionaire Mai Vu Minh met with the Zeljka Cvijanovic, president of the Republika Srpska entity in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and discussed investment cooperation between the entity and Vietnam.
  • The EU is urging Slovenia to be more ambitious with its environmental targets for 2030. 
  • Slovenia postpones the sale of Abanka until today. US investment fund Apollo is offering more than Hungary’s OTP.
  • Police in N. Macedonia apprehend 50 migrants bound for Europe after entering from Greece.
  • AP: “Hundreds of students protested Tuesday in the Serbian capital of Belgrade, blocking traffic, hurling eggs at police and demanding the resignation of the education minister after he postponed their final math exam following its leak on social media.”

BEYOND THE POLITICS

  • University of Pittsburgh Law Student gets first hand view of the Bosnian judicial system. 
  • Not for the weak: A flight from Pristina, Kosovo to Basel, Switzerland experienced extreme turbulence, and it was caught on video.