Southern Balkans

Kosovo Opposition Party Objects to Serb Election Candidates

At a meeting of Kosovo’s Central Election Commission on Tuesday, Vetevendosje refused to vote in favour of certifying candidates from the Srpska Lista party to run in the May 19 polls, arguing that three of them had breached the constitution by resigning as mayors of the same municipalities in which they want to run for […]

New Albanian Party to Contest Polls as Opposition Vows Boycott

A group of former opposition Democratic Party officials have founded a party called Democratic Conviction, saying they will contest the June 30 local elections – although a new opposition coalition threatened to boycott the polls. A group of former Democratic Party officials set up a new party called Democratic Conviction on Tuesday, promising they will […]

Balkan Insight’s Week in Pictures

A round-up of Balkan Insight’s favourite photographs of the week. A participant at the first-ever Balkan Transgender and Intersex Pride march in the Croatian capital of Zagreb holds a banner saying, ‘My body, my temple!’ on March 30. Photo: EPA/Antonio Bat. Members of the Macedonian opposition VMRO DPMNE party shout slogans during the opening electoral […]

Tens of Thousands Join ‘Biggest Rally Yet’ Against Serbia’s Vucic

The latest protest against the rule of Serbian President Vucic drew tens of thousands of people from all over Serbia on Saturday evening to continue their calls for the government’s resignation. Tens of thousands of Serbian citizens marched against the government of President Aleksandar Vucic on Saturday, during what the opposition aimed to be the […]

Kosovo Serb Minister Fired for Calling Albanians ‘Terrorists’

Ramush Haradinaj announced on Tuesday that he has dismissed the Minister of Local Government Administration, Ivan Teodosijevic, a Kosovo Serb, for using hate speech. Haradinaj said that the decision was made to sack Teodosijevic after his comments that Kosovo Albanian war victims fabricated crimes committed during the 1998-99 conflict. “It is senseless how one of […]

Journalist Launches Counter-Suit Against Albanian PM

After Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama filed a defamation suit against journalist Ylli Rakipi, claiming his reputation was damaged, the journalist launched a counter-claim against the premier, alleging political pressure. An Albanian journalist being sued by Prime Minister Edi Rama, who is demanding 8,000 euros in compensation for alleged defamation, launched a counter-suit on Tuesday, […]

Greek Police Clash With Refugees Heading for Border

Greek police on Friday used tear gas to disperse some 500 mainly Middle Eastern refugees and migrants, including families with women and children, who gathered outside the Diavata refugee reception camp close to Thessaloniki in northern Greece in the hope of crossing the border with North Macedonia. Police for a second day prevented them from […]

Murdered Serbian Journalist’s Colleagues Hail Guilty Verdict

Serbian journalists on Friday welcomed the guilty verdict handed down to former state security operatives for the 1999 murder of opposition journalist and editor Slavko Curuvija, but called for the political background to the assassination to be definitively established. One former colleage of Curuvija, Branko Cecen, the director of the Centre for Investigative Journalism of […]

Bosnian Ex-Fighters Seek Acquittal over Serb Boy’s Killing

Female ex-fighter Elfeta Veseli and former Bosnian Army unit commander Sakib Halilovic called on the Bosnian court to acquit them of involvement in the killing of a 12-year-old Serb boy in 1992. In closing arguments at the Bosnian state court on Friday, defence lawyers for Sakib Halilovic and Elfeta Veseli urged the court not to […]

Romanian Rock Band Takes Aim at Corrupt Politicians

The rock band Taxi has targeted Romania’s notoriously corrupt political class with an expletive-ridden anti-corruption song featuring the 86-year-old actor and activist Victor Rebengiuc. Romanian rock band Taxi, known for its strong political messages, has released a new song attacking corruption and featuring one of Romania’s most respected actors, Victor Rebengiuc. The song “Like them” […]

Deadline Looms for North Macedonia’s Special Prosecution Law

The future scope of the Special Prosecution office in North Macedonia, SJO, remains in question after the main opposition VMRO DPMNE party on Tuesday confirmed that it had submitted no less than 65 amendments to a government-proposed law on extending its activities. “Each amendment that does not hide [inside it] a protection of crime is […]

GERB Vice-President Quits Bulgaria Parliament Over Property Scandal

The vice-president of the ruling party in Bulgaria and head of its parliamentary group, Tsvetan Tsvetanov, resigned from parliament on Wednesday following an investigation into the purchase of a luxury flat. Tsvetanov intended to remain vice-president of the GERB party and head of its election committee, he told reporters after a two-hour meeting with Prime […]

Kosovo’s Erratic Foreign Policy is Alienating its Allies

A flurry of senior diplomatic visits in recent days has put new pressure on Kosovo to restore EU-sponsored talks with Serbia and cancel the retaliatory tariffs it has imposed on imports from Serbia and Bosnia. The visits highlight the way Kosovo’s erratic foreign policy is damaging its relations with its main international ally, the US […]

Moldovans Face Bigger Gas Bills After Gazprom Hikes Price

Moldovan consumers will likely have to pay more for their gas next year, after Russia’s energy giant raised the price of the gas it delivers to the country by a quarter this year. Russian energy giant Gazprom has raised the price of the natural gas it delivers to Moldova by 25 per cent since the […]

Croatia Looks Implicated in Serious Hybrid Warfare Against Bosnia

If it is proven that Croatian intelligence hatched a plot to plant weapons in Bosnian mosques, Croatia is guilty of inciting terrorism in another country. It might be the biggest scandal since the end of the 1992-5 Bosnian War. The Sarajevo independent outlet Zurnal has claimed that Croatian intelligence agents, aided by Croatian diplomats in Bosnia, tried […]

North Macedonia Court Jails Parliament Attackers

Skopje Criminal Court jailed 16 people involved in the 2017 mob attack on the country’s legislature, including a former interior minister who was sentenced to 18 years in prison. In a first-instance sentence that can be appealed, Skopje Criminal Court on Friday handed down severe jail sentences to 16 people who participated in the mob attack on […]

Women March for Rights Across the Balkans

Women in Serbia, Kosovo, Montenegro and Romania held protest rallies on International Women’s Day on March 8, to draw attention to the plight of women in their countries, where traditional patriarchal values remain prevalent. In the Serbian capital of Belgrade, demonstrators held banners reading “Work, not hunger. Food, not weapons”, wanting to draw attention to ongoing […]

Former Kosovo Intelligence Chief ‘Observed’ Turks Being Deported

A timeline of the procedural steps taken in the deportation of six Turkish nationals says the former intelligence agency chief Driton Gashi was present at Pristina airport when they were bundled onto a plane. A report obtained by BIRN says the then head of the Kosovo Intelligence Agency, AKI, Driton Gashi, was present at the […]

Petar Goshev: Focus on ‘Name’ Dispute Does Not Justify Inaction

he political career of Petar Goshev is longer than the three-decade-old democracy of North Macedonia. Older generations remember him as a rare democratic voice from the era of the breakup of the former Yugoslavia in the 1980s and early 1990s. He was the party leader who refused to lead the government – later led by […]

Turkish Ambitions Dim Race to Lead Albania’s Muslims

The biggest mosque in the Balkans is taking the final shape in Tirana, Albania, in front of the headquarters of the Muslim Community of Albania, KMSH. White and massive with four minarets and several domes, once finished at the end of this year it will be able to accommodate 10,000 worshipers in its prayer halls […]

Scavenger Hunters: Kosovo’s Exploited Scrap Collectors

Twelve-year-old Resmije is too short to reach into the skip, so she climbs over the side and jumps right in. Tearing open bags of household waste and rotting food, she plucks out anything of value: plastic bottles, soft drink cans, electric cables. It all goes into a wooden cart pushed by her uncle. The two […]

Zagreb Condemns Attack on Belgrade Sportsmen in Croatia

Zagreb officials condemned an attack on three Red Star Belgrade water polo players in the coastal city of Split – one of whom jumped into the sea to escape his assailants. The Croatian government and President Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic on Sunday condemned the attack on three players from Red Star Belgrade’s Water Polo Club in […]

Serbia’s Protest Wave Moves Into Third Month

rotesters gathered in Serbia on Saturday evening to again express their dissatisfaction with the rule of President Aleksandar Vucic and the government led by his Serbian Progressive Party. People in Belgrade, but also in other towns and cities, marched in the streets calling on Vucic to resign, but also raising other issues such as declining […]

Kosovo Hikes Defence Budget to Fund New Army

Kosovo’s Defence Ministry will have six million more euros to spend in the 2019 budget than it had last year – after the country’s parliament voted to expand the competences of the current lightly armed Kosovo Security Force, KSF, and start its transformation into a regular army. The budget planned for defence in 2019 is […]

Macedonian Sundance Winners Make Sweet Gesture to Child Stars

After winning several prizes at the US Sundance film festival, the authors of the Macedonian documentary ‘Honeyland’ have decided to use the buzz to help the children of the rural beekeepers that feature in their film. The authors of an award-winning film about impoverished beekeepers, Honeyland, are calling on film lovers across the world to buy some […]

Hungary to Keep Control Over Skies Over Kosovo

The upper air space over Kosovo – skies above 10,000 feet – will remain under the control of a Hungarian state company for “an indefinite period” after the current five-year agreement signed in 2014 “for the provision of air navigation services and other relevant activities in the designated airspace over Kosovo” expires on April 3. […]

Kosovo Ex-Commander Sylejman Selimi Freed from Jail

Former Kosovo Liberation Army commander Sylejman Selimi, who was convicted of war crimes for torturing a civilian prisoner at a KLA detention site, was released on probation. Former KLA commander Sylejman Selimi was released on probation on Friday, said the director of Kosovo prisons, Nehat Thaci. His conditional release was welcomed by the speaker of […]

Greek MPs Approve Historic Macedonia ‘Name’ Agreement

NATO and EU leaders have applauded Greece’s parliament for approving the historic agreement with neighbouring Macedonia, following days of heated debate and clashes in the streets. Greece’s parliament on Friday backed ratification of the highly controversial agreement that is designed to end the decades-long dispute over Macedonia’s name. In the vote that ended at 14.30 […]

Commission Spies Downsides of Bulgaria’s ‘Golden’ Passport Schemes

The European Commission has criticised loopholes in Bulgaria’s fast-track citizenship schemes – which Sofia has said it will now drop, as they failed to lure the expected investment. The European Commission has criticized Bulgaria, among two other EU member states, for operating citizenship-purchasing schemes that grant foreign investors EU passports under “less strict than ordinary […]

Bosnia Appoints First Female Chief State Prosecutor

Bosnia and Herzegovina’s High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council has elected Gordana Tadic as the new chief state prosecutor, making her the first woman in the country’s history to hold the position. Bosnia and Herzegovina’s judicial overseer, the High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council, HJPC, elected Gordana Tadic on Wednesday as the new chief state prosecutor for […]

Bosnian State Profits from Emigrants Renouncing Citizenship

The state authorities expect to earn between 600,000 and 700,000 euros in 2019 by charging people to give up their Bosnian citizenship as the outflow of emigrants from the country continues. According to the draft budget for the coming year, which was discussed by Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Council of Ministers on Tuesday, state institutions will […]

Serbian President Accused of Hypocrisy for Media Freedom Speech

Serbian journalists criticised President Aleksandar Vucic for making a speech at a media freedom event at the World Economic Forum in Davos, accusing him of being responsible for deteriorating freedom of speech in his own country.  Serbian journalists and editors accused President Aleksandar Vucic of hypocrisy after he addressed a panel on freedom of the […]

Serbian Protesters March Again Against Govt

For the seventh weekend in a row, protesters in Serbia on Saturday marched near major government institutions in the capital, Belgrade, putting more pressure on the government led by the Serbian Progressive Party and President Aleksandar Vucic to stop what they call the political violence in the country. In a speech before the march started, […]

Albania Rights Groups Condemn ‘Undemocratic’ Media Bills

Edi Rama is being urged to withdraw two media bills that rights groups say pose a serious threat to freedom of the media and democracy in the country. A number of organizations in Albania dedicated to the protection of human rights, media freedom, freedom of information and journalists associations called on Prime Minister Edi Rama […]

Montenegro Jails Crime Reporter for Drug Trafficking

The Higher Court in Podgorica on Tuesday sentenced investigative journalist Jovo Martinovic to one and a half years in prison for alleged drug trafficking and membership in a criminal organisation. Martinovic told BIRN that the verdict was politically motivated and not based on facts. “I have been convicted for being a journalist,” Martinovic said. “If […]

Take flames with Albanians, the pilot makes a forced landing!

A Stutgart-Pristina line aircraft has suffered a defect in the air by making forced landings in Slovenia. The plane has been burning in some parts of the air, endangering passengers on board, most of the Albanians from Kosovo. As soon as the defect was discovered, the pilot made a forced landing in Slovenia, while the […]

Serbian Protesters Maintain Pressure on Vucic, Govt

A column of people marched through the streets of Belgrade on Saturday evening in the fifth such protest against political violence in the country and putting more pressure on the government to fulfil their demands. Carrying banners reading: “Your time will end” and chanting “Vucic thief”, protesters walked again near or past all major official […]

US Praises Albania for Expeling Iranian Diplomats

US praises Albania’s decision to expel the Iranian ambassador and another diplomat over an alleged ‘terrorist plot’ that is likely linked to the presence of Iranian dissidents on Albania’s territory. Albania on Wednesday expelled the Iranian ambassador and another diplomat over an alleged terrorist plot, whose nature have not been made public. The decision was […]

Russia is a Menace to Balkan Democracies

Russia is aggrieved by the West’s growing influence in the Balkans, and Kosovo in particular. Despite historic ties between Russia and Serbia, and a shared Slavic and Orthodox Christian heritage, Russia was too weak economically and militarily to oppose NATO’s intervention in 1999, which culminated in Kosovo’s independence. Today, however, Russia is resurgent. Kosovo has […]

It is expected that the law on media will be changed, the defamation fines of up to ALL 1 million

Media that publish untrue news will be punished with a fine of 100,000 to 1 million lek. The government has prepared the so-called anti-piracy package, which changes the law on audiovisual media in Albania by imposing sanctions on untrue news and libel. According to the draft, auditor service providers, including portals, should notify and broadcast […]

Sarajevo Activists Share White Flowers for Female War Victims

CURE Foundation, a Bosnian NGO that advocates for female rights and gender equality, together with volunteers and members of ‘Sinapse’, a local association of psychology students, launched their initiative on Saturday to mark December 8 as a memorial day for all women who were killed or abused in the 1992-95 war. Activists in front of the […]

Albania Company ‘Falsified US Links’ to Win Road Contract

Prosecutors have started probing claims that a company falsely claimed to be part of a major US-registered company to win an important public works contract in Tirana. The General Prosecutor’s Office in Tirana told BIRN on Friday it would probe allegations that a company had used false documents to win an 18-million-euro public works tender […]

Macedonia PM Backs Amnesty Deal ‘in Principle’

Macedonia’s Prime Minister on Friday said he agreed ‘in principle’ with the opposition on a draft law offering an amnesty or pardon to some of those involved in last year’s rampage in parliament. Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev said on Friday that his government was willing to consider an amnesty for those involved in last […]

Serbian Minister’s Father ‘Mediated Saudi Weapon Sales’

Serbian Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic’s father mediated in a lucrative weapons trade between a Serbian company and a buyer from Saudi Arabia, BIRN investigation shows. The father of Serbia’s Interior Minister, Branko Stefanovic, mediated in arms deals between the Serbian weapons manufacturer Krusik and a private Saudi Arabian company, a BIRN investigation can show. Documents obtained […]

Kosovo Activists File War Crimes Complaints Against Serbs

A group of civil society activists in Kosovo filed 61 criminal complaints about war crimes by Serbian police and military forces to the Special Prosecution in Pristina. Activists from the Civil Society Group filed 61 criminal complaints on Monday against named Serbs who they alleged committed crimes in the municipality of Gjakova/Djakovica during the 1998-99 […]

Pranksters Bury Fake Picasso in Romanian Forest

A Dutch writer who thought she had found a missing Picasso in Romania has now said she was the victim of a hoax. A Romanian-born Dutch writer who thought she had found Picasso’s missing Harlequin Head has revealed that she was the victim of an elaborate hoax. Mira Feticu wrote a book on the sensational theft of […]

Multitasking: Collecting Paychecks from the Serbian State

Dusan Bajatovic’s working day begins at 7 a.m. But who knows when it ends given he has four different jobs. A senior member of the co-ruling Socialist Party of Serbia, Bajatovic is best known as director of Srbijagas, the state-owned natural gas provider. He is also a member of parliament as well as sitting on […]

Macedonia’s Gruevski Fled via Albania and Montenegro, Police Confirm

Macedonia’s ex-Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski used a Hungarian embassy car to flee through Albania and Montenegro on his way to Hungary, where he has requested political asylum, Albania police confirmed. Albania police confirmed on Thursday evening that Macedonia’s former Prime Minister, Nikola Gruevski, travelled through Albania to Montenegro on November 11 via the Hani I […]

Kosovo Refugee Cracks Exclusive World of Swiss Watches

Time has not stood still for Kosovo Albanian immigrant Rexhep Rexhepi – whose latest trophy watch was acclaimed at this year’s Baselworld fair, winning him fame and fortune. There are many rags-to-riches success stories involving Albanian immigrants in Switzerland, where four players in the national football team are of Albanian or Kosovo origin – Granit […]

WWII Albanian Nationalist Leader Reburied with Honours

Writer and politician Mit’hat Frasheri, praised for his contribution to Albanian culture but criticised for collaborating with the Nazis, was reburied at a ceremony attended by Prime Minister Edi Rama. Albanian National Guard troops carried the coffin of Mit’hat Frasheri to its reburial site in a park in Tirana on Wednesday, as the Albanian Army […]

META WELCOMES PARTICIPANTS IN INTERNATIONAL KIDS FASHION WEEK ALBANIA

The President of the Republic, Ilir Meta welcomed today and held a warm and friendly meeting with about 50 children from Albania, Kosovo, Montenegro, Germany, Russia and Ukraine who participate in the activity “International Kids Fashion Week Albania”. Addressing the children and warmly conversing with them, President Meta stressed that the international event that is […]

GALLUP: VERIFIER ALBANIAN, BUT WITH POSITIVE DISCUSSION

Economic growth does not always show everything. According to Gallup’s latest study, though living in one of the least developed countries in Europe, Albanians know how to enjoy life and do not lack the good emotions. The “Global Emotions 2017” report reveals Albania as one of the most positive countries in the world, with 51% […]

UK refusal to cooperate with Belgian hacking inquiry condemned

The UK government has been accused of endangering diplomatic relations with Belgium after its “exceptional” refusal to cooperate with an inquiry into GCHQ’s alleged hacking of Belgacom, the country’s biggest telecoms company. For at least two years ending in 2013, the British intelligence service was probably spying within the state-owned company’s networks on the instruction of […]

Macedonia Albanian Parties Demand Constitutional Change

The fragile two-thirds majority in the Macedonian parliament for the ‘name’ agreement with Greece could be jeopardised by the demand by two small parties for a constitutional change to make Albanian an official language nationwide. Two small ethnic Albanian opposition parties in Macedonia, the BESA movement and the Alliance for Albanians, insist that the changing […]

Shooting Pain: A Photographer’s View of the Kosovo War

In Wade Goddard’s imagination, Kosovo is still fixed as a picture of bodies of murdered children lying on the wet ground – an image that appears in his new book, ‘The Kosovo War’, which was published last month. In his photographs, Goddard portrays the bitter tragedy that many Kosovo Albanian families went through during the […]

Serbia Backsliding on EU Accession Progress, NGOs Warn

A group of Serbian NGOs that monitor the country’s EU accession process warned that Belgrade is not making legal changes that are essential for progress towards membership of the bloc. A coalition of NGOs entitled prEUgovor, which monitors Serbia’s EU accession process, said on Thursday in a new report that key reforms in areas like the rule […]

Ramush Haradinaj in Shkodra, homage to the statue of Isa Boletini

Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj has started an official visit to Albania from the city of Shkodra. Haradinaj has shown that after meeting with Mayor Voltana Ademi, he has paid homage to the monument to Isa Boletini. “Shkodra is the address of our nation, with its history and tradition, has been proud of us for […]

Lulzim Basha together with the farmers in the Vaun e Dejes

Lulzim Basha went to Vaja e Dejës today to meet farmers in the village Kosmaç regarding their problems, lack of state subsidy, lack of markets, damage to the products. “It would be good for us to have a warehouse, a collection point,” one of the farmers said, who said that everyone gave it a choice […]

Croatian Director Makes Film about ‘Serbian Terror’

A new documentary film claiming that Croats have been subjected to a ‘century of Serbian terror’, made by controversial Croatian director Jakov Sedlar, will be premiered next month. Croatian director Jakov Sedlar, who became the centre of controversy for a previous film about the World War II Jasenovac concentration camp, will stage the premiere of […]

Serious Money Remains Dream for Serbia’s Young Authors

Uros Timic vividly remembers the evening he was told his very first novel was one of three winning titles at a major literary competition in Serbia. It was December 2013, and he was at his best friend’s. “I am not sure I expected it, but I really wanted my novel to be chosen; I wanted […]

Anti-Migrant Protest Held in Bosnian Border Town

Some 300 people in the Bosnian town of Bihac, on the border with Croatia, staged their third consecutive evening protest on Monday, demanding that state-level officials find a proper solution to the rise in the number of migrants and refugees arriving in the area.  People of Bihac gathered in the town centre, demanding the relocation of migrants […]

US Official Urges Kosovo and Serbia to Reach Deal

Senior US official Matthew Palmer urged Serbia and Kosovo on Friday to make the most of a “historic opportunity” to end their decade-long dispute. The US’ Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Matthew Palmer, called on Friday for Serbia and Kosovo not to miss the “historic opportunity” to reach an agreement to end their decade-long dispute, […]

Macedonia’s Parliament Backs ‘Name’ Agreement with Greece

Macedonia’s parliament has passed the government motion for the constitution to be amended to allow the country’s name to be changed – as required under the historic agreement with Greece. With 80 votes in favour and 39 against, Macedonia’s MPs backed a government motion late on Friday night to start the procedure to change the […]

State of Denial: The Books Rewriting the Bosnian War

That convicted Serbian war criminal Vojislav Seselj never gave up his dream of a Greater Serbia is perhaps evident in the name he gave to his publishing house – ‘Greater Serbia’. The borders of Serbia may not have grown as Seselj wanted them to, but his publishing house will spread its wings at this year’s […]

US Official Urges Kosovo and Serbia to Reach Deal

Senior US official Matthew Palmer urged Serbia and Kosovo on Friday to make the most of a “historic opportunity” to end their decade-long dispute. The US’ Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Matthew Palmer, called on Friday for Serbia and Kosovo not to miss the “historic opportunity” to reach an agreement to end their decade-long dispute, […]

Macedonia’s Parliament Backs ‘Name’ Agreement with Greece

Macedonia’s parliament has passed the government motion for the constitution to be amended to allow the country’s name to be changed – as required under the historic agreement with Greece. With 80 votes in favour and 39 against, Macedonia’s MPs backed a government motion late on Friday night to start the procedure to change the […]

MPs Remain Entrenched in Macedonia ‘Name’ Deal Debate

A parliamentary debate in Macedonia on changing the constitution to support the ‘name’ deal with Greece has yet to produce any signs that opposition MPs are closer to supporting the agreement. At Wednesday’s start of the third day of a parliamentary debate in Macedonia on the constitutional changes needed to implement the “name” agreement with […]

Montenegro Detains Pro-Putin Bikers Escorting Serbian Patriarch

Montenegrin police briefly held four members of the Russian pro-Kremlin Night Wolves biker club who were accompanying the head of the Serbian Orthodox Church in the country. Night Wolves leader Aleksander ‘The Surgeon’ Zaldostanov said that police detained four members of the Russian pro-Putin motorcycle club’s Montenegro chapter on Monday while they were escorting Serbian Orthodox Patriarch […]

Serbia’s Church Should Stay Out of Ukraine Dispute

On October 11, the Ecumenical Patriarchate announced that the process of recognizing the independence, or autocephaly, of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church had started, rejecting the decision of 1686 by which the Kiev Metropolitanate was handed over to Moscow. This is the most important event in the Ukrainian ecclesiastical crisis. Only two years after the Pan-Orthodox […]

US Anti-Terror Official Visits Balkans to Boost Cooperation

US counterterrorism coordinator Nathan Sales is visiting Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania and Kosovo to discuss how to improve cooperation in fighting terrorism and prosecuting suspects. Nathan Sales, the US Coordinator for Counterterrorism, will continue his official visit to the Balkans until October 20, visiting Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania and Kosovo, all countries that have faced […]

Strike Threat Compounds Bosnian Aluminium Producer’s Woes

The future of the cash-strapped aluminium plant in Mostar looks ever more uncertain, as unions warn of a strike if the Federation entity government does not step in again to sort out its finances. Some 900 workers at Aluminij Mostar have announced a strike in Sarajevo in front of the parliament of the country’s Federation […]

Croatians Protest ‘Silence’ Over War Crimes Prosecutions in Vukovar

Thousands of war veterans and citizens came from across Croatia to take part on Saturday in a protest in the eastern town of Vukovar, which was flattened by Yugoslav forces and Serb paramilitaries in 1991, to demand more prosecutions for war crimes committed during what Croatia calls its ‘Homeland War’ for independence. Vukovar Mayor Ivan Penava, who […]

Croatian MP Sparks Debate on Women’s Healthcare

Croatia’s Health Minister survived a no-confidence vote on Friday – but the issue of women’s healthcare has been thrust into the spotlight after an MP shared her own ‘painful’ experience of the hospital system. Croatia’s Minister of Health, Milan Kujundzic, has retained his position after a no-confidence vote on Friday failed to unseat him. However, […]

Rangelova: ‘Isolated VMRO DPMNE Has no Future’

The current head of the Women’s Union of Macedonia’s main opposition VMRO DPMNE party, and an MP serving her second turn, recently attracted hostile attention as one of the few senior party representatives to vote in the September 30 referendum on the historic agreement with Greece. Daniela Rangelova says that although she did vote, she voted “against” […]

Patriarch’s Ukraine Bombshell Will Echo in the Balkans

Small actions can have huge consequences when it comes to churches. When a papal delegate slammed a formal notice of excommunication on the high altar of the main church in Constantinople in 1054 – although he surely did not appreciate it – that one act began the “Great Schism” – the separation of the Church […]

Suspect Named in Murder of Bulgarian TV Journalist

A 21-year-old called Severin Krassimirov has been detained in Germany and named as the prime suspect for the murder of the TV host Victoria Marinova – whose brutal slaying in Ruse has attracted international condemnation. A 21-year-old Bulgarian named Severin Krassimirov is the prime suspect in the investigation into the brutal murder of the journalist […]

Macedonia Races Against Time for Name Change

Macedonia’s prime minister is optimistic about mustering enough support for the adoption of the historic ‘name’ agreement with Greece, but lengthy parliamentary procedures mean the schedule is very tight. Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev on Tuesday said that he is optimistic that the legal procedure for the adoption of the historic ‘name’ agreement with Greece […]

Vineyard Sells Wines Celebrating Croatian Fascist Leader

A vineyard owner in Bosnia and Herzegovina is selling bottles of wine labelled with a picture of Croatian WWII-era fascist Ustasa leader Ante Pavelic. A wine producer in Siroki Brijeg, a city with a majority Croat population in Bosnia and Herzegovina, is selling bottles of wine bearing the name Poglavnik, the title used by Croatian […]

Bosnians Stage Simultaneous Protests Over Youngsters’ Deaths

Numerous Bosnians gathered on Friday in both Sarajevo and Banja Luka for more protest rallies about the unexplained deaths of two youngsters, David Dragicevic and Dzenan Memic. Thousands of protesters gathered at 6pm on Friday in the Bosnian capital, Sarajevo, and in the main city of Bosnia’s Serb-dominated entity, Republika Srpska, Banja Luka, urging the […]

Montenegro to Penalise Disrespect for National Anthem

Montenegro’s government has put forward legislation that would make not standing up for the national anthem an offence punishable by a 300 to 2,000-euro fine. “A fine of 300 to 2,000 euros will be imposed on a person if they do not stand up during the performance of the anthem,” the government press statement said. […]

NATO Urges Kosovo to ‘Consult Fully’ on Army Plans

As Kosovo gets closer to voting on draft laws on expanding the mandate of the Kosovo Security Force – which Serbia opposes – NATO calls for ‘full consultations’ with ‘all communities’. NATO has said it supports the continued “development” of the Kosovo Security Force, KSF, but that major changes should follow consultation with all communities […]

German CDU Urges Macedonian Opposition to Support Deal

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats have urged their Macedonian sister party, VMRO DPMNE, to support the Greek deal in parliament – which it has so far opposed –  or risk isolating Macedonia from Europe. Germany’s ruling centre-right party has urged its sister opposition party in Macedonia to support the deal with Greece in parliament […]

BIRN Conference Highlights War Crimes Cooperation Problems

Cooperation on war crimes cases between prosecutors’ offices in former Yugoslav countries happens rarely despite agreements between the states, said participants at a major regional conference organised by BIRN. Regional cooperation between prosecutors’ offices in former Yugoslav countries is beset by problems, despite the protocols that states have signed agreeing to collaborate on war crimes […]

Romanian Family’s Real Supporters Should Boycott This Referendum

No one doubts that the family is in danger in Romania. The country has the highest infant mortality rate in the whole of the EU, with 7.6 deaths for every 1,000 live newborns – double the European average. Despite that, Romania’s spends the least on health and education of all EU countries. The parents of […]

Croatia, Hungary Mull Future Gas Deliveries From Krk

Croatian and Hungarian ministers met on Tuesday to discuss joint energy plans under which Hungary will receive gas supplies from Croatia‘s planned LNG terminal on Krk island. Tomislav Coric, Croatia‘s Minister of Environment and Energy, met on Tuesday in Budapest with Hungary’s Foreign and Trade Minister, Peter Szijjarto, to discuss joint energy projects and gas supplies. One […]

Moldova Ruling Party Bans Opposition Media From Briefings

Moldova’s ruling Democratic Party, PD, has cancelled the press accreditation of the main pro-opposition TV station, Jurnal TV, without a offering a real reason. Reporters from another TV station, TV8, were banned several weeks ago from PD headquarters for the weekly press briefing, held usually every Thursday, under the pretext that it is a private […]

Four Jailed for Crimes Against Bosnian Croat Captives

Four former members of the Bosnian Army were jailed on Tuesday for a combined total of 27 years for crimes against Bosnian Croat civilians in the village of Kruscica, near Vitez, during Bosnia’s 1992-95 war. The Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina sentenced Minet Akeljic and Saban Haskic to seven years each, Senad Bilal to eight […]

Observers Gather in Bosnia to Scrutinise Elections

Thousands of accredited observers will be monitoring Bosnia’s October elections – after a campaign overshadowed by numerous allegations of fraud and manipulation. More than 50,000 national and international observers will monitor Bosnia’s eight post-war election whose campaign has less than a week to run. The Central Electoral Committee has accredited 2,9191 observers, but this figure […]

Macedonia Must Make Tough Decisions After Disappointing Referendum

On Sunday, Macedonia held a much-anticipated referendum on the “name” agreement signed in June with Greece, known as the Prespa Agreement. It was designed with a series of steps to effectuate a compromise between the demands of both sides and construct a viable roadmap for ratification. The end of the road was Macedonia’s accession to […]

Snap Election May Yet Salvage Macedonian Name Deal

Macedonia’s government will seek to convince its right-wing opponents not to stand in the way of parliamentary ratification of a deal with Greece to change the country’s name and unlock accession to NATO and the European Union, but party insiders and analysts say a snap election looks much more likely. Prime Minister Zoran Zaev wants […]

European Commission Renews Warning on Romania’s Rule of Law

European Commission First Vice-President Frans Timmermans warned Romania’s government on Monday that it might end up in court if it continues its policies to relax the fight against corruption. Romania still has a chance to give up legislation changes that threaten the fight against corruption, but the European Commission will not hesitate to take Bucharest […]