Balkan Insight (91)

Protesters Blockade Film About Serb-Albanian Relations

Protesters carrying Serbian flags and chanting anti-Albanian slogans prevented the showing of a film about Serb-Albanian relations in the city of Nis.

Macron to Visit Romania After Vowing to Tackle Cheap Labour

President Macron's harsh line on Eastern Europeans who work in the West - but pay less in social contributions – will impact on the Balkans, as well as on his primary target, Poland.

Serb Woman's Case Upsets Trump Immigration Policy

A US Supreme Court verdict in the case of a Bosnian Serb deported because of her husband's role in the Bosnian war will make it harder for the Trump administration to remove immigrants' citizenship.

Albania Enjoys Calmest Ever Election Campaign

With an almost complete absence of posters and other campaign paraphernalia, Albania is witnessing the most decent and calm pre-election period in its history, experts say.

Romanian Top Filmmakers Fight for Reform

Hopes of comprehensive change to the film industry – deemed vital for this flourishing field - have suffered another blow after Romania's parliament withdraw the reform legislation.

Jeremic Party May Shake up Serbia, Analysts Say

Analysts give Vuk Jeremic, former Chairman of the UN General Assembly who is starting a political party, good chances of making waves on the political scene in Serbia. 

Foreign Leaders Gather in Serbia for President's Inauguration

A phalanx of regional and other leaders - though not from Albania or Kosovo - will be present in Belgrade on Friday for Aleksandar Vucic's inauguration as Serbia's new head of state.

Serbian Official Blames Yugoslav Army for Croatia Crimes

Former Serbian security chief Jovica Stanisic's lawyer told the Hague Tribunal that the Yugoslav People's Army was responsible for crimes in the Serb-led Republic of Serbian Krajina wartime statelet in Croatia in 1991.

Bosnian Politics 'Impedes Justice', Says Hague Prosecutor

The politicisation of war crimes in Bosnia and Herzegovina has created obstacles to securing justice for victims, chief Hague Tribunal prosecutor Serge Brammertz said in Sarajevo.

All Aboard the China Express

This week we look at the opportunities and risks associated with Chinese investments in the region, as well as the mix of election-related politics, economic and security stories. 

Bosnian Serbs Consider Chinese Lessons in Schools

Ni Hao, meaning hello in Chinese, might become a more common greeting in the Bosnian Serb entity Republika Srpska if the authorities bring in language lessons for school pupils.

Kosovo Landmine Victims Demand Serbia Pay Compensation

Kosovo's Association of Mine-Injured Civilians asked Serbia to pay compensation to people injured in landmine blasts during and after the war, and called on the Pristina government to raise the issue in Brussels.

Balkan States Face Big Population Drops, UN Warns

In several Balkans countries a drop in population of more than 15 per cent is expected by the year 2050, the latest UN report has noted.

Albanians Torn Between Choices Ahead of Election

The June 25 general election leaves Albanians with the choice of continued rule by the Socialists or putting their faith in the Democrats' promise of a stronger economy and lower taxes. 

Wartime Sexual Crimes: A Challenge for Balkan Prosecutors

Prosecutors in the former Yugoslavia must develop comprehensive policies for dealing with sexual and gender-based crimes to ensure justice for vicims, Hague Tribunal deputy prosecutor Michelle Jarvis told BIRN.

Visa Rejection Frustrates Kosovo's Tennis Stars

Moldova's refusal to give Kosovo tennis players visas to play in the Fed Cup is only the latest disappointment suffered by the country's athletes – the result of continued disputes over Kosovo's statehood.

Serbia's Divided Gays Plan Separate Parades

Two separate 'Pride' parades, one in June and another in September, will be organised in Belgrade this year, reflecting divisions within Serbian LGBT organisations.

Romania Ruling Party Set to Name New PM

Romania's Social Democrat Party will nominate a new Prime Minister by Monday after ousting the government, but the ruling coalition risks losing its majority in parliament. 

Macedonia Vows to Tackle Reforms Ahead of Hahn Visit

Macedonia's new leaders are promising to work hard and rapidly on EU-sought reforms, as EU Commissioner Johannes Hahn starts a visit to the country.

Serbian Security Chiefs 'Seen in Croatia Conflict Zone'

A former Yugoslav People's Army colonel told the UN court in The Hague that he saw Serbian security chiefs Jovica Stanisic and Franko Simatovic in 1991 in the Knin area, where crimes against Croats were committed.

Hague Tribunal President: 'We Offered Truth, Not Reconciliation'

The president of the UN's war crimes court for the former Yugoslavia, Carmel Agius, said the Hague Tribunal established many crucial facts about the 1990s wars, but its job was never to provide reconciliation.

Four Broadcasters Dominate Serbian Media, BIRN Shows

New research by BIRN and Reporters Without Borders highlights the extent to which the Serbian media space has become dominated by a handful of boadcasters and media companies.

OSCE: Bosnia Boosts Wartime Sexual Violence Prosecutions

Over the past three years, courts and prosecutions in Bosnia and Herzegovina have processed more cases involving wartime sexual violence than before, but more needs to be done, a new OSCE report says.

Serbian 'Red Berets' Accused of Bosnia War Crimes

Belgrade's Humanitarian Law Centre filed criminal complaints against three former fighters from the Serbian Red Berets unit, accusing them of committing war crimes in the Bosnian town of Doboj in 1992.

Romania's Ruling Party Ousts Own Government

Romania's ruling Social Democrat Party impeached its own government on Wednesday after a week of skirmishes between the party leader and the Prime Minister who refused to resign.

Kosovo LDK Demand PM's Post to Join Coalition

After the opposition Vetevendojse movement invited the LDK to join a coalition, acting PM Isa Mustafa said the LDK's condition for entering any coalition was holding the PM's post. 

Russia's Strategic Plans Failing in Balkans, IISS Says

London-based think tank says Moscow's bid to establish bloc of four neutral or pro-Moscow Balkan states has experienced major setbacks in Macedonia and Montenegro.

Belgrade Muslims Decry Lack of Mosques and Graveyards

The overnight demolition of an illegally-built mosque has highlighted difficulties the Muslim community faces in Serbian capital.

UN Needs to Properly Compensate Kosovo Victims

The United Nations should reconsider its refusal to compensate Kosovo Roma who suffered lead poisoning at UN-run camps after the Kosovo war.

Stagnant Bosnia Awaits its Macedonian Moment'

Events in Macedonia have shown that genuine change remains possible in this region – but only if ordinary citizens are prepared to lead the way. 

Romanian Parliament to Hold No-Confidence Vote

Parliament is to vote on a Social Democratic Party motion of no confidence in its own government after a week of political turmoil and a nationalist backlash over a failed deal with an ethnic Hungarian party.

Serbian Tabloid Criticised for Airing Criminal's Claims

A pro-government newspaper in Serbia has been criticised for giving an interview to a convicted criminal - who accused President Aleksandar Vucic's enemies of plotting his downfall and even death.

Senior Kosovo Ex-Guerrillas' Supreme Court Appeal Opens

Former senior Kosovo Liberation Army members Sylejman Selimi and Sami Lushtaku's appeal against their conviction for war crimes against civilian prisoners began at the country's Supreme Court.

London Fire Raises Bulgarian Concern About High-Rises

Following the fire in London's Grenfell Tower, in which dozens died, concerns have risen in Bulgaria over construction materials used in renovation work on apartment blocks.

Senior Kosovo Ex-Guerrillas' Supreme Court Appeal Opens

Former senior Kosovo Liberation Army members Sylejman Selimi and Sami Lushtaku's appeal against their conviction for war crimes against civilian prisoners  began at the country's Supreme Court.

Serbian Official Denies Key Role in Croatian War

The defence lawyer for former security official Franko Simatovic told the Hague Tribunal that a witness's claim that the Serbian State Security Service was a protagonist in the Croatian war in 1991 was false.

Bosnia Ponders Terror Threat as Interpol Seeks Suspects

The number of Bosnian citizens wanted by Interpol on terrorism-related charges has risen to 13, but locals and analysts are divided about whether the country itself is in danger of attacks.

Bosnian Pupils Rally Against Ethnic Segregation in Schools

After preventing the establishment of a new ethnically-segregated school in their town, pupils in Jajce led protests against ethnic divisions in Bosnian schools in general.

Poor Planning Halts Macedonia Highway Projects

Macedonia may have to pay dearly to fix problems with the ongoing construction of two key stretches of motorway funded by a Chinese loan, after work was temporarily halted due to bad planning.

Luka Modric Probe 'Sends Warning to Perjurers'

A new investigation into Real Madrid star Luka Modric, suspected of giving false testimony in a corruption trial in Croatia, demonstrates that people must tell the truth in court, the ex-justice minister said.

Romania Arrests Target Child-Trafficking Crime Gang

Romanian organised crime prosecutors say that more than 70 Roma children from the east of the country were trained to pick pockets and then sent to Paris to steal and beg.

Luka Modric Probe 'Sends Warning to Perjurers'

A new investigation into Real Madrid star Luka Modric, suspected of giving false testimony in a corruption trial in Croatia, demonstrates that people must tell the truth in court, the justice minister said.

Romanian Arrests Target Child-Trafficking Crime Gang

Romanian organised crime prosecutors say that more than 70 Roma children from the east of the country were trained to pick pockets and then sent to Paris to steal and beg.

Russian President Putin to Visit Bulgaria in 2018

Vladimir Putin has accepted an invitation from President Rumen Radev to visit Bulgaria in 2018 to mark the 140th anniversary of the end of the Russo-Turkish war.

Albanian Police Go Airborne for Anti-Cannabis Offensive

After efforts in 2016 to curb widespread cannabis cultivation in Albania were unsuccessful, police have deployed helicopters as part of a new national effort to end the growing of illegal crops.

Swiss Politician Convicted of Srebrenica Genocide Denial

A Swiss court found Donatello Poggi, a local politician in the canton of Ticino, guilty of racial discrimination because he wrote that the 1995 genocide of Bosniaks from Srebrenica was a lie, media reported.

Romania's Political Turbulence Threatens Economic Growth

By the end of this year, Romania is set to become the largest economy in the Balkans - but experts warn that if political instability continues, it will struggle to maintain the current momentum.

Bulgarian Socialists Closer to Reclaiming Ruined 'UFO'

The Bulgarian Socialist Party, successor to the former ruling Communist Party, is seeking to regain control of the huge, bizarre-looking monument to Socialism at Mount Buzludzha, which has been abandoned to decay for over three decades.

Macedonia PM Aims to Heal Breach With Bulgaria

Macedonia's Prime Minister, Zoran Zaev, on Tuesday heads to Bulgaria on a mission to warm up strained relations - and seek Bulgaria's aid in Macedonia's Euro-Atlantic intregration bids.

Hashim Thaci, Guerrilla Chief Who Became President

Kosovo's president has established himself as a shrewd tactician able to outmanoeuvre his opponents – but who still remains haunted by his past.