The Balkans

Politics 29-11-2021

Sofia wants business with Skopje, but will not lift veto soon

North Macedonia will receive a softer tone from the future Bulgarian government, but an immediate lifting of its veto on European integration seems unlikely. On Saturday night, the parties of the future quadruple ruling coalition in Sofia agreed to maintain...
Politics 29-11-2021

Editor’s take: Croatia has a problem

Journalists cautiously watched every word Croatia’s maverick President Zoran Milanović said at the press conference with visiting French President Emmanuel Macron last Thursday, afraid of another possible scandal. In the event, it passed smoothly. (Much more so than when he...
Politics 26-11-2021

Western Balkans press councils sign region’s first declaration

Western Balkan press and media councils, including Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Turkey, have signed the region’s first joint declaration on strengthening media ethics in the digital era. The agreement is the outcome of the UNESCO EU-funded project, Building Trust in Media and South-East Europe- Phase 2,...
Politics 26-11-2021

Slovenian government proposes surprise changes for appointment of EPPO prosecutors

As the European Public Prosecutors’ Office appointed Slovenia’s two delegated prosecutors after months of delays, it has become clear what the Slovenian government had in mind when it said its overdue proposal for the two prosecutors was “temporary”. The justice...
Politics 26-11-2021

Minority government in Montenegro is a high-risk move

A minority government would be a high-risk move, said Prime Minister Zdravko Krivokapić, adding that he did not know what Montenegro would look like with such a government. Krivokapić stated that the formation of such a government depends on the...
Politics 26-11-2021

Macron: Trying to stabilise situation with Bulgaria

“In the coming months, we will try to do more to stabilise the situation between Bulgaria and Northern Macedonia”, said French President Emmanuel Macron during his visit to Zagreb. France’s vision is to build an area of peace, stability and...
Politics 26-11-2021

Dodik gives up plan to threaten BiH’s armed forces, for now

Serb leader Milorad Dodik has caved in to pressure and given up his plan to jeopardise the survival of BiH’s armed forces, BiH High Representative Christian Schmidt said. In an interview for The Guardian, Schmidt also warned that the crisis had not...
Politics 26-11-2021

Vucic after meeting Putin: Gas price for Serbia to stay the same in next six months

The price of Russian gas will remain at $270 per 1,000 cubic metres for Belgrade in the next six months, Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić said in Sochi on Thursday after meeting with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin. After a face-to-face...
Politics 26-11-2021

Macron: Croatia is ready for Schengen

“Croatia is ready for Schengen, it has confirmed a strong organisation and the ability to protect its borders, the Union’s external borders, in relation to the fight against smuggling, and it has confirmed its ability to control its borders,” French...
Politics 26-11-2021

Romania’s new conservative-socialist government sworn in

The parliament gave its confidence vote to the new government supported by a wide coalition of the conservatives from PNL and UDMR and the socialists of PSD. The Cabinet of Nicolae Ciuca held its first meeting on Thursday evening. The...
Politics 26-11-2021

Belene nuclear plant: Bulgarian far-right leader threatens to send opponents to a labour camp

Kostadin Kostadinov, leader of the pro-Russian far-right party ‘Vazrazhdane’ (Revival), started his first term as an MP by threatening to deport all those who oppose the Belene nuclear power plant to the town’s communist-era forced labour camp. The Belene NPP is an...
Politics 26-11-2021

Almost 50,000 illegal border crossings from Western Balkans in 2021

During the first months of 2021, Kosovo’s border police repatriated 1530 migrants from the Middle East and Africa back to Albania after crossing the border illegally, while thousands more have travelled and moved on to Europe undetected. According to data...
Politics 25-11-2021

Albanian COVID-19 vaccine rates continue to lag

Albania is one of the countries with the lowest vaccination rates in Europe, with just 33% of the population fully vaccinated and 37% with one dose, according to Our World in Data and reported by Exit.al. Since vaccination started in January...
Politics 25-11-2021

Kosovo cuts free power to Serb majority municipalities

Kosovo’s energy network operator KOSSTT announced it would no longer supply consumers in four Serb-majority municipalities with free electricity in the north of the country. The move will affect Mitrovica North, Zvecan, Zubin Potok and Leposavic, according to KOSSTT head Jeton Mehmeti in a...
Politics 25-11-2021

Beginning of EU negotiations is in geostrategic interest of US

Prime Minister Zoran Zaev had a telephone conversation with US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Karen Donfried. The two agreed that the opening of negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania is in the US’ foreign policy...
Politics 25-11-2021

German coalition agreement includes reference to Western Balkans

Germany’s Social Democrats (SPD), the Greens and the business-friendly liberal FDP have finalised their coalition agreement for a new government, including a short note about the Western Balkans. “We support the EU accession process of the six states in the Western...
Politics 25-11-2021

Escobar: Open Balkans initiative cannot succeed without all Western Balkans countries

US special envoy for the Balkans, Gabriel Escobar, stated on Wednesday that the Open Balkans initiative could not succeed if it did not include “all six countries” of the Western Balkans. “The three countries that are launching this initiative must...
Politics 25-11-2021

Serbia to seek cheap gas price from Russia

The presidents of Russia and Serbia, Vladimir Putin and Aleksandar Vučić, will meet in Sochi on Thursday to discuss a solution to the Kosovo crisis, Russian News Agency TASS has reported, citing a release from the Kremlin. For its part,...
Politics 25-11-2021

Illegal migration to Slovenia down almost 40% year-on-year

In the first nine months of this year, Slovenia registered 8,144 illegal entries, 39% less than in the same period of 2020, Slovenia’s interior ministry reported on Wednesday. The majority of the illegal migrants were Afghans, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis. There...
Politics 25-11-2021

Slovenia backs Poland’s on border protection

Slovenia expressed support for Poland’s stance on border protection as Prime Minister Janez Janša hosted his Polish counterpart Mateusz Morawiecki on Wednesday. Janša expressed solidarity with Poland and condemned the actions of Alexander Lukashenko’s regime, which he said “exploited people...
Politics 25-11-2021

PM Plenkovic expects France’s support for Schengen entry

President Emmanuel Macron came to Zagreb on Wednesday evening and had dinner with Prime Minister Andrej Plenković where the topic of the Schengen Area was discussed. According to sources close to the Croatian government, other talks focused on the situation in...
Politics 25-11-2021

Austrian expert commission recommends banning gathering for Ustasha at Bleiburg

A group of experts authorised by the Austrian interior ministry to evaluate the annual gathering at Bleiburg has recommended banning it. The experts comprised historians, lawyers, and representatives of the Catholic Church, the Interior Ministry and the Carinthian authorities. The...
Politics 25-11-2021

Fuel worth $2 million stolen from US military base

Members of an organised criminal group allegedly stole fuel worth $2 million over four years from a US military base in southeast Romania, prosecutors have found. The US filed a complaint with Romanian prosecutors who found out that several members...
Politics 25-11-2021

Russian nuclear reactors could affect stability of future Bulgarian government

The decision to use the two already paid for and delivered Russian nuclear reactors will be a major problem for the stability of the future governing coalition in Bulgaria. The other big problem is the veto on the European integration...