WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN THE BALKANS TODAY

  • Prime Minister of N. Macedonia Zoran Zaev used a homophobic slur while speaking to the media:””Let’s be clear, I’m not going to allow a couple of criminals, one vain journalist, and forgive me LGBT community, a f****t to bring down this government.”
  • He quickly apologized on Twitter: “The LGBTI community has my great respect. So, before using the word “queer” I apologized. I used that word to describe a character trait, not sexual orientation. Apologies for LGBTI people. I will fight for their rights, as they have done so far.”
  • The Quint States (US, UK, Germany, Italy, and France) called on Kosovo and Serbia remove obstacles to the dialogue and return to the table. The statement called for Kosovo to revoke the 100% tariff on Serbian goods and for Serbia to end its derecognition campaign. Read the full statement here.
  • The outgoing Kosovo Prime Minister’s Office released a statement challenging the Quint States: “As far as dialogue is concerned, Kosovo has never obstructed it, and was always ready to sit at the negotiation table to discuss reaching of a final, legally binding agreement, under current borders which would lead towards mutual recognition. This process should not be conditioned.”
  • Meanwhile, the Serbian Director of the Office for Kosovo Marko Djuric said: “Dialogue can be resumed but you cannot make even the CEFTA violation by Pristina and Serbia’s efforts in preventing Kosovo’s independence recognition. Serbia was not the one who initiated membership of Kosovo in Interpol, UNESCO… Pristina’s institutions had done that with its aggressive attitude, forcing Serbia to defend itself successfully.”
  • Former member of the Obama and Clinton National Security Council, and current Georgetown Professor Charles Kupchan said that a land swap should be on the table if the citizens supported it even if it meant an increased risk for Bosnia and Herzegovina and N. Macedonia. You can read his full interview with RFE/RL (in Serbo-Croatian) here.
  • Countdown: Bosnia and Herzegovina does not appear closer to forming a Council of Ministers than eight days ago after the three most popular parties signed an agreement. It has 22 days before the agreement becomes invalid, and here are no scheduled meetings between the Members of Presidency.
  • Bosnian Serb Member of the Presidency Milorad Dodik says he will respect the agreement, but “There is no path toward NATO. We are tied to Serbia regarding that matter. If Serbia joins NATO in 100 years, so will we. If Serbia does not join it in 300 years, neither will we, as long as I and my political option have a say in the matter.”
  • Serbian Minister of Interior Nebojsa Stefanovic says that foreign secret service entities are trying to monitor communications of President Aleksandar Vucic in addition to people of interest to them.
  • Outgoing Kosovo Minister of Justice Abelard Tahiri said that “The new Law on confiscation of assets will become the main weapon in our efforts to fight organized crime and corruption” in a meeting with Acting Head of EULEX Bernd Thran.
  • Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic met with Russia‘s Ambassador in Belgrade Alexander Botsan Kharchenko to discuss the Kosovo issue and cooperation in international organizations, the foreign ministry said in a press release on Tuesday giving no specific details of the talks.” (N1)

  • Japanese Foreign Minister Tara Kono is on an official visit to Slovenia today. He will meet counterpart Miro Cerar and  President Borut Pahor
  • Meanwhile, “Japanese and Slovenian partners signed two agreements in Ljubljana on Tuesday that pave the way for cooperation in development and research of robotised rehabilitation devices.
  • Fujita Health University signed one of the accords with the University of Ljubljana and the other with the Ljubljana-based URI Soča Rehabilitation Institute, and Toyota Motor Corporation.The signing was attended by Economy Ministry State Secretary Aleš Cantarutti, who praised it as a major paving stone for further cooperation between Slovenia and Japan in the field.” (Slovenia Times)


  • The United Nations is investigating North Korean cyberattacks in 35 attacks in 17 countries, including one instance in Slovenia. 
  • KFOR said it is prepared to secure the elections so all people could safely travel and vote in their respective communities.
  • Croatia was the second leading foreign investor in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2018 at $60.3 million. Meanwhile, Russia took the top spot with $79.3 million in investments. 
  • Environmental Disaster: There was an oil spill in western Serbian river where 70 tons of gas was being stored for the winter. 
  • Crime: Bosnian police seized 83.75 pounds of marijuana at the border with Croatia. A Bosnian and Croatian national were arrested.

BEYOND THE POLITICS

  • Sport: Red Star Belgrade and Dinamo Zagreb move forward to the UEFA Champions League playoff round to reach the group stages. It took Red Star and opponents FC Copenhagen 22 penalty kicks to decide the winner after stoppage time.Meanwhile, Slovenian side, Maribor crashed out and will play in the UEFA Europa League playoff round.
  • New home country?: Business Insider made a mistake with the headline, “Tesla (autos) is named after Siberian engineer Nikola Tesla.”