Western Balkans Overview Jan 15, 2024 – CWBS

Western Balkans Overview Jan 15, 2024 – CWBS
  • U.S. to sell Kosovo 246 Javelins

The U.S. Department of State approved the sale of Javelin anti-tank missiles to Kosovo. The White House has already notified Congress of the scheduled delivery.

The contract will amount to $75 million.

The U.S. Defense and Security Cooperation Agency announced that in addition to 246 Javelin FGM-148F missiles and 24 launchers, the deal covers the relevant training. The agency said the sale of missiles will support US foreign policy and national security objectives by enhancing the security of a European partner who is an important force for political and economic stability in Europe. It is emphasized that the weapons will improve Kosovo’s long-term defense capabilities to protect its sovereignty and territorial integrity.

The message the United States is sending to Serbia by supplying anti-tank missiles to Kosovo is that Washington no longer considers Belgrade a reliable partner, international analysts say.

According to Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić, the information about the sale of American anti-tank missiles to Kosovo came as a big disappointment, but Serbia will work together with the United States to preserve Serbian-American relations.

  • Vučić’s party to enjoy absolute majority in parliament

The Republican Electoral Commission of Serbia approved the general report on the outcome of the parliamentary elections held on December 17. The Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) “Aleksandar Vučić – Serbia must not stop” will have 129 seats in the People’s Assembly out of 250.

Another 44 mandates go to current and potential SNS allies:

The “Ivica Dacic – Prime Minister of Serbia” (Socialist Party of Serbia, SPS) will receive 18 seats;

NADA coalition – “Dr. Miloš Jovanović – NADA for Serbia” – 13 seats;

“We are the Voice of the People, prof. Dr. Branimir Nestorovic” – 13 seats;

The opposition list “Serbia against violence – Miroslav Miki Aleksic – Marinika Tepic” will have 65 parliamentary seats.

Also, the People’s Assembly of Serbia will have 12 representatives from five lists representing national minorities:

Union of Voivodeship Hungarians – for our president, for our community, for the future!” received six mandates,

Coalition “United for Justice” of Usame Zukorlic and Tomislav Zigmanov, – 2,

“SDA Sandžak – Dr. Sulejman Ugljanin” – 2,

“Albanians’ political struggle continues – Shaip Kamberi” – 1,

“Russian Party (Ruska stranka) – Slobodan Nikolic” – 1.

  • Croatia, Montenegro defense ministers’ meeting called off amid dispute over memorial plaque, training sailboat

Croatian Defense Minister Ivan Anušić canceled a meeting with Montenegrin counterpart Dragan Krapović because of Krapović’s views on the memorial plaque in Morinje and the fate of the Jadran training sailboat.

The head of the Montenegrin Ministry of Defense was supposed to meet with his Croatian counterpart in Tivat as part of the celebration of the Day of the Croatian People in Montenegro, but he later called off the event. The Morin prisoner of war camp operated in the village bearing the same name on the shores of the Bay of Kotor during the attack on Dubrovnik. About 300 people (Croats) were held in that camp. Three prisoners died from torture.

A memorial plaque outside the former Morin camp was opened in October 2022. “We remember the crimes committed to tar the name and spirit of Montenegro. We are sorry for all the suffering that the prisoners have experienced. May this never happen again,” the text on the memorial plaque states.

The Jadran boat had sailed from Croatia to Montenegro for overhaul before the war in 1991, but the Montenegrins have not returned it until now, which remains a bilateral dispute between Zagreb and Podgorica.

Montenegro’s defense minister said a few days ago on a TV show that according to the agreements signed after the breakup of Yugoslavia, Croatia is not entitled to claim the Jadran and that they are not ready to negotiate ownership.

Regarding the memorial plaque in the former Morin military camp, the head of the Montenegrin defense ministry said that it is placed incorrectly, that the inscription does not correspond to the facts, and that it should be replaced with another one with an adequate text.

It should be recalled that both Croatia and Montenegro are NATO Allies.

  • North Macedonia’s opposition snubs Bulgaria’s calls to amend constitution

The opposition party VMRO-DPMNE (Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization – Democratic Party of Macedonian National Unity) does not support constitutional changes that would define Bulgarians as one of the state-forming ethnic groups in the Republic of North Macedonia. According to the head of the VMRO-DPMNE, Christian Mickoski, the party stands for the European future of the Republic of North Macedonia, but not under “Bulgarian dictate”. Mickoski said this while commenting on the interview of the EU ambassador to North Macedonia, David Geer, to the North Macedonia state agency MIA.

Geer noted that if the opposition party is in favor of the country’s integration into the EU, then it is clear that it should support changes to the Constitution.

According to the leader of the VMRO-DPMNE, the EU ambassador in Skopje should “talk to his colleague in Sofia and the Bulgarian government to open North Macedonia’s path to the European Union without ultimatums, dictates, and hegemonic demands.”

As reported, Bulgaria blocked the launch of EU accession talks with North Macedonia due to differences over history, language, and identity of the two countries. In the summer of 2022, Sofia lifted the veto on the condition that Skopje carry out a constitutional reform and fixate the state-forming status of Bulgarians in the preamble of the Basic Law.

The current Constitution of North Macedonia in its preamble refers to the so-called state-forming peoples living in the country – Macedonians, Albanians, Turks, Vlachs (Vlachs), Serbs, Roma, and “others”. The Bulgarian people and Bulgarians are not on the list, and thus their rights as a nation-building ethnic group are violated, according to Bulgaria.

  • Ex-Prime Minister, Ex-President of Albania Sali Berisha organizes rallies while under house arrest

Sali Berisha, who is currently under house arrest, regularly issues political statements, posting them on social media or addressing supporters who regularly gather outside his home in the Albanian capital, Tirana, from his apartment window.

Since December 30, Sali Berisha, leader of the opposition Democratic Party, former Prime Minister and former President of Albania, has been under house arrest on charges of corruption in favor of his son-in-law. Berisha claims that the charges brought against him are politically motivated.

Sali Berisha is accused of involvement in the privatization of sports facilities belonging to Partizan FC (a sports club owned by the Ministry of Defense). Later, high-rise apartment blocks were built on that land plot.

Criminal proceedings were launched in 2020.

In 2021, Sali Berisha, along with his family, was put on the U.S. sanctions list for the alleged involvement in significant corruption, and banned from entering the country. Secretary of State Antony Blinken tweeted at the time that Berisha’s corrupt actions undermined democracy in Albania.

In 2022, the UK also applied sanctions against the politician.