WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN THE BALKANS TODAY

  • Bosnian Chairman of the Presidency Milorad Dodik and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic were in Belarus for the opening of the European Games.
  • Vucic met with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko and discussed the need for increased economic ties between the two countries. Vucic did not attend the opening ceremony because of the presence of Kosovo symbols.
  • Kosovo-Serbia Dialogue: The proposed July 1 summit in Paris between Kosovo and Serbia was “delayed.” Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic is not happy it was called off and thinks it shows that only the US can get the two to meet.
  • The US State Department said it would be willing to help in the negotiations by listening to the sides and seeing if there is an agreement suitable for everyone. US Ambassador to Serbia Kyle Scott made it clear that any agreement would have to be locally negotiated and owned, not imposed on by the international community.
  • Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj said the 100% tariffs, the main obstacle to getting to getting the Serbian side to get back to the table, could remain forever.
  • But there was a meeting last week between Serbia’s Head of the Office of Kosovo, Marko Djuric, and Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj’s Cabinet Chief, Selim Selimi, in Berlin to see if negotiations could be kickstarted.

  • Government Shuffle: “Today, North Macedonia’s Prime Minister Zoran Zaev unveiled the names of the new ministers for agriculture, environment, culture, local self-government and political system and relations between the communities. These include Trajan Dimkovski (Minister of Agriculture), Naser Nuredini (Minister of Environment), Hysni Ismaili (Minister of Culture), Goran Milevski (local self-government) and Sadula Duraki (political system and relations between the communities.”

  • Montenegrin Prime Minister Dusko Markovic is on a three day official visit to Azerbaijan to promote business development between the two.
  • Economy Minister of Croatia Darko Horvat does not believe that a Chinese company will partner with the Third of May shipyard, nor purchase it.
  • Clearing House: Kosovo President Hashim Thaci‘s party, the PDK, ordered all party members who have criminal charges to leave public posts. Kosovo Minister of Innovation and Entrepreneurship  Besim Beqaj offered his resignation.x
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Chairman of the Council of Ministers Denis Zvizdic met with Montenegrin Parliament Speaker Ivan Brajovic in Sarajevo. They discussed the high level of cooperation between BiH and Montenegro and EU enlargement.
  • Worthy Read: Washington-based German Marshall Fund authored a paper aiming to explain the growth of anti-West/pro-Russian sentiments in the Balkans.
  • Meanwhile Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borrissov warned N. Macedonia of “stealing” Bulgarian history. Most notably, both Bulgaria and N. Macedonia claim Gotse Delchev as their national hero. 
  • Croatia marked Anti-Fascist Struggle Day over the weekend centered around the town of Brezovica.
  • Montenegro looks to attract more Chinese tourists through the 16+1 mechanism. China, on the other hand, looks to “build motorways” in the region.
  • Croatia could see the Euro adopted as its official currency by 2023.
  • Slovenia’s Abanka was sold to Nova KBM for a whopping $501 million. US investment fund Apollo Global Management owns 80% of Nova KBM while the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) owns 20%.
  • Deutsche Welle: “Officials near Bosnia’s border with Croatia feel abandoned by the federal government and the international community. With shelters bursting at the seams with people trapped in limbo, they’re taking drastic measures.” 


BEYOND THE POLITICS

  • The International Olympic Committee reflected on the 1984 Winter Games. “Few Olympic cities have had to overcome so many post-Games difficulties as Sarajevo. In 1984, it was part of Yugoslavia, which became the first socialist state to host a Winter Games. Highlights included Norway’s Eirik Kvalfoss dominating the biathlon, Katarina Witt of East Germany shining in the speed skating, and the perfect performances of Great Britain’s figure skaters, Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean. The Games gave the city’s image a boost, refreshed its infrastructure and supercharged its passion for sport.”
  • An 80 year old woman was injured by a bear nine miles south of Ljubljana. The Slovenian bear population is estimated at over 1,000.
  • “Norwegian low-cost carrier Air Shuttle launched on Friday a seasonal service connecting Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), with Gothenburg in Sweden, Sarajevo International Airport (SIA) stated in its press release. Planes will take off from SIA once a week on Tuesday, and return from Gothenburg Landvetter Airport on Friday.”
  • Kosovar judoka Majlinda Kelmendi won two gold medals at the European Games in Minsk, Belarus.
  • Serbia defeated Croatia to win the FINA World Men’s League and booked its spot in the 2020 Olympics in Japan.