03 Aug 17 WEEKLY ROUNDUP JULY 28 – AUGUST 3

Decision Time

Across the Balkans, it seems to be time to make some hard decisions, from Serbia’s relations with Kosovo, to Bosnia’s deadlocked politicians and all the way back to Kosovo where a government must be formed in order to avoid another election. 

Milos Damnjanovic
Aleksandar Vucic. Photo: Darko Vojinovic/AP

Serbia’s De Gaulle?

In a recent comment piece for the Belgrade daily newspaper Blic, Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic called for his countrymen to ‘get real’ regarding Kosovo and stop ‘putting their heads in the sand’. He also called for an internal dialogue on Kosovo within Serbia. 

Amidst the summer calm, the words caused a flood of comment and intrigue. Was Vucic laying the ground for Serbia, one way or another, to come to terms with Kosovo’s proclaimed independence? How genuine was he in calling for an internal dialogue? Marcus Tanner considers these, and other questions, wondering if Vucic might just turn out to be Serbia’s De Gaulle when it comes to Kosovo. 

Read more: Might Vucic Become Serbia’s de Gaulle on Kosovo? (August 1, 2017) 


Kosovo parliament. Photo: Kallxo

Countdown

Following an inconclusive election, Kosovo’s new Parliament will finally assemble today. As soon as this happens, the clock will start ticking for political parties to agree upon a governing majority and form a government or, failing that, head to another election. 

Yet who, if anyone, will be able to form a government remains unclear. The PAN coalition, which emerged from the election as the single largest block in Parliament, claims to have secured a majority, but who is part of this majority remains to be seen. We look in more detail at the possible scenarios and outcomes that lie ahead for Kosovo. 

Read more: Clock Starts Ticking for Kosovo’s Next Government (August 3, 2017)


Croatian soldiers during Operation Storm. Photo: BETAPHOTO/HINA/Lana Slivar Dominic.

Anniversaries

Aside from being the holiday season, the summer months can also be a time of political and historical tensions, as various historical dates and anniversaries are celebrated and/or commemorated. Tensions in the region typically reach a peak in early August, when Croatia officially celebrates the anniversary of Operation Storm, during which Croatian forces retook the bulk of separatist Serb-held territories in the country. For most Croatian Serbs and many in Serbia and Bosnia, this anniversary is a time for anything but celebration, as it also marks the moment when over 200,000 Croatian Serbs were forced to flee their homes. 

As the anniversary of Operation Storm approaches, we talk to the researchers from the Croatian Helsinki Committee for Human Rights who first documented crimes committed during and after Operation Storm against Croatian Serb civilians. 

Read more: Tragic Search for Victims of Croatia’s Operation Storm (August 3, 2017)


Members of Bosnia's tripartite presidency: Bakir Izetbegovic, Dragan Covic and Mladen Ivanic [from left to right]. Photos: Anadolu, HDZBiH. Anadolu

Grandstanding

Are the public spats of Bosnia’s political officials theatre for the public, or have they taken on a more profound meaning?

Our editor Srecko Latal argues that, while such arguments may have once served the purpose of grandstanding before the public, they have taken on a life of their own. Whereas politicians were once able to strike deals and compromises behind closed doors, personal relationships are increasingly breaking down, with political leaders representing the three ethnic groups increasingly unwilling to meet, let alone agree anything. 

Read more: Politicians' Worsening Feuds Threaten to Make Bosnia Ungovernable (July 31, 2017)


The new law will also apply to Serbian DJs like Marko Nastic. Photo: Flickr/Share Conference

Taxing Musicians

In its attempts to reduce the size of the ‘grey economy’, Serbia’s government has come knocking on the doors of the country’s musicians and performers. New regulations will require employers to sign contracts with musicians and pay social and tax contributions for them. Periodic campaigns to investigate the origins of the wealth of some of them have had little effect in terms of taxing their incomes. Yet the government now seems to be more determined to make sure that they pay their dues. 

Opinion within the music profession remains divided. Some argue that the new regulations will be good for musicians and performers themselves, as they will be able to count on old age pensions. Others believe that the government’s latest attempts to drive the sector out of the grey zone will not be successful, as the campaign by the authorities inevitably loses steam. 

Read more: Serbia’s Govt to Cash in on Sound of Music (August 2, 2017)


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Bosnian Bullfighting

In most corners of the world, bullfighting is associated with Spain. Yet in Bosnia, there is nothing alien about the sport. Across the country, summer festivals centered around bullfighting can be found. 

Unlike the Spanish version, the Bosnian version of bullfighting is much less violent. Better regulation has helped to ensure that animals are rarely injured and fight much as they would in the wild. Yet the bullfighting gatherings, such as that at Cevljanovici, is about much more than just that – people gather from around the world to see family and old friends, eat, drink and be merry. 

Read more: Bloodless Bullfight Gives Bosnians Excuses to Party (July 31, 2017)

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