WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN THE BALKANS TODAY

  • On Croatian President Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic’s visit to Israel, Jerusalem Post’s Greer Fay Cashman writes, “Holocaust commemoration, education and restitution were the key subjects in the long conversation that President Reuven Rivlin had on Monday with Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović who is on a three day state visit to Israel. It was the third meeting between the two presidents. The first was during Grabar-Kitarović’s first visit in 2015. The second was a year ago, when Rivlin paid a state visit to Croatia.”
  • Holding a joint press conference in Jerusalem with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin NetanyahuCroatian President Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic remarked, “Unfortunately, in light of several events, the F-16 deal was canceled between us and I regret that. In my opinion it was a good opportunity for Croatia and a good basis for further cooperation between us, but this will not change our intention to further strengthen our relations and our cooperation.” She continued, “We are proud of the Holocaust education in our country and proud that since 2015 over 350 of our teachers have received training on Holocaust remembrance in cooperation with Yad Vashem.”
  • Meanwhile, N1 interviewed last week Israeli Ambassador to Croatia Ilan Mor who said that the way is to look to the future, but “The Holocaust is one of the main components of our identity. Also in Croatia, the Holocaust plays a very important role. You cannot deny it, you cannot look the other way. You have to confront it.” He praised Croatia’s efforts to send more schools to the Jasenovac Concentration Camp in the upcoming school year.
  • Serbia + Russia: Ten Russian armored vehicles arrived in Serbia despite Romania’s claim that they blocked their passage through its territory. Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic praised Russia for delivering the vehicles and for “strengthening” its military. Serbian Air Force and Air Defense Commander Major General Dusko Zarkovic expects four Russian Mi-35 helicopters by the end of the year.
  • Newly elected European Commissioner President Ursula von der Layen will be in Croatia today to discuss EU Commissioners, Croatia’s upcoming EU Presidency, and its attempts to join the Eurozone and Schengen Area.
  • The famous Sarajevo tunnel commemorates its 26th anniversary. Construction under the airport runway began on March 1, 1993. In secret, over 45 tons of steel were used to build the tunnel which ferried supplies into the city during the 1992-1995 siege.
  • Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic held a press conference in Dubrovnik to frame the visit of the new European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen. “Unfortunately, the election of the main candidate, Manfred Weber, was blocked, but we managed to get a very good candidate who knows and has visited Croatia, is in excellent relations with our Defence Minister Damir Krsticevic, and has extensive experience of four terms in the German government.” 
  • Kosovo’s Ramush Haradinaj officially wrote to the Constitutional Court to determine the current role of the government. The legal responsibilities of the government convening is currently undefined. Haradinaj stepped down as prime minister last week after being summonsed by The Hague as a suspect for war crimes.
  • Slovenia’s Prime Minister Marjan Sarec rises in the polls –  57% of those polled supported the government, a 3.1% increase from last month. 
  • Slovenia’s outgoing Ambassador to Croatia Smiljana Knez regrets that the relationship between the neighbors isn’t as strong as it could be. She noted, “Regretfully, there’s not much trust in a whole range of issues that would require more dynamic approach to get resolved. A low level of trust makes it harder to talk, negotiate and seek solutions to unresolved issues.”
  • Pilgrims from Bosnia will charter 12 planes to Medina for the annual Hajj. In total, Saudi Arabia issued visas for 1,680 Bosnian, 660 Serbian and 20 Croatian citizens.
  • Protests: Bosnians protested in front of the Croatian Embassy in Sarajevo over the proposed location of where Croatia will dump nuclear waste. Croatia’s Environment and Energy Minister Tomislav Coric noted, “As for Trgovska Gora, Croatia is considering that site, and as for opinions and signals from Bosnia and Herzegovina, it is fully justified for any country to think about what is happening in its neighbourhood and I don’t see any problem with that.” 
  • A Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) veterans branch plans on protesting in Pristina over the arrest of a former KLA member Tomor Morina who was arrested in N. Macedonia on a Serbian arrest warrant.
  • Meanwhile, 70 former KLA members have been summonsed to The Hague, according to N1. None are public officials.

BEYOND THE POLITICS

  • Representatives of the Ministry of Sustainable Development and Tourism of Montenegro say that a Ritz Carlton will open in the near future.