WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN THE BALKANS TODAY


Editor’s Note: After traveling all day yesterday and a six hour time difference, I am back in the swamp and ready to get you caught up to speed with the latest news in the Balkans!

  • N1: “The representatives of Serbia and their guests from France who arrived as a part of the French President Emmanuel Macron’s delegation signed 18 deals on Monday, including agreements on the delivery of Mistral missiles, an infrared homing MANPAD, and a letter on intentions for the realisation of the Belgrade Metro.” 
  • Special Prosecutor Katica Janeva resigned from her post in N. Macedonia. She faces an investigation into corruption and organized crime for her role in an extortion case. Other members of the Special Prosecutors Office defended the institution.
  • Republican strategist Ana Navarro slammed US President Donald Trump for his Tweets over the weekend telling Democratic Congresswomen to “go back where they came from.” Navarro pointed out Trump’s wife, Melania, is a Slovenian native who came over to America and received a green card on an “Einstein visa.” Navarro also pointed out that Trump wants to end chain migration, the same program that Melania Trump used to help her parents acquire American citizenship. 
  • The Helsinki Commission released a podcast “Seeking Justice in Serbia” featuring Ilir Bytyqi whose three brothers were murdered in Serbia in 1999, family lawyer Praveen Madhiraju, and longtime senior policy advisor Robert Hand. They discuss how the Bytyqi family has worked within the US and Serbian systems to obtain justice and what challenges they face.
  • Newly elected European Commission President Urusala Von der Leyen on the Western Balkans: “The Western Balkans is very important for the European Union. It’s Europe. And therefore I will support as much as possible the growing relationship between the Western Balkan countries and the European Union. I think it is in both of our interests to be open, to be constructive… Of course, reforms have to be done, but to have the door open, and an open mind for these topics, is very important for me.”
  • Grabar-Kitarovic responded: “I want to point out that Croatian police, in conducting activities in control of state borders, and thus EU borders, when preventing illegal migrations act according to the law, professionally and humanely, while means of force against those who violate the law are used to the least possible measure that is necessary for protection of police official’s safety and for conducting their tasks.”
  • Bosnian Presidency Chairman Milorad Dodik vetoes a move for Bosnia to sue Croatia over the construction of the Peljesac Bridge citing “Serb national interests.” Bosnian Presidency Members Sefik Dzaferovic and Zeljko Komsic were in favor of suing.
  • Turkish Foreign Minister  Mevlut Cavusoglu arrived on yesterday in N. Macedonia on a two-day official visit. He met with counterpart Nikola DimitrovPrime Minister Zoran Zaev, and Deputy Prime Minister for European Affairs Bujar Osmani
  • He said N. Macedonia is a natural ally, even before NATO accession, and urged it to take steps to fight Gulenists. 
  • Citing media scrutiny, Croatian State Assets Minister Goran Maric abruptly resigned.  “I work under terrible pressure and cannot accept the unprecedented attack on myself and my family.” Maric has been the subject of an investigation by the State Prosecutor’s Office over the sales of apartments connected to the Zagreb Franciscan Monastery.
  • Montenegrin Defense Minister Predrag Boskovic is on the second day of his visit to the Middle East. He me with Minister of Region Cooperation Tzachi Hanegbi who said Israel is ready to deepen cooperation with Montenegro and support it on its Euro-Atlantic path.
  • Korean police officers join their Chinese counterparts in Croatia for the Safe Tourism Season project.
  • Polygraph.info takes a deep dive into how the new Russian Ambassador to Serbia Aleksandr Botsan-Kharchenko began his mandate with false claims. 
  • Media outlet Euronews signed a deal with the Serbian media group HD-WIN to launch Euronews Serbia to target Serbian language speakers.
  • Magna Steyr invested $1.38B in an auto supply chain plant in northeast Slovenia. They were lured to Hoce-Slivnica with nearly $21M in government incentives. Plans for the factory were first announced in 2017. The plant will have over 400 employees and complement operations in Graz, Austria. 
  • Average salaries in Bosnia grew in May by 5.1% compared to May 2018 and up 2.2% since the start of the year.

BEYOND THE POLITICS

  • Human Interest: “JJ Okanovich: The Bosnian Bomber“: “They call him the Bosnian Bomber. JJ Okanovich is not from Bosnia, but he does have Bosnian heritage; His parents are Bosnian. The nickname was given to him by one of his teammates’ first coaches. ‘[When I first started] I had no technique, I would just go in there and throw bombs,’ Okanovich said. ‘He knew I was Bosnian so he started calling me the Bosnian Bomber and it’s stuck ever since.’”