The Balkans Today: 9th - 15th May 2016
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The Balkans Today

Up to the minute news and updates from the Balkan region

The Balkans Today: 9th - 15th May 2016

Our team brings you live updates of the most important events and developments in the Balkans as they happen.

    Top stories from the Balkans this Monday:
    • Despite a Pristina court’s recent sentencing of two Kosovo Albanians for joining an alleged terrorist group in Syria called ‘Harausham’, no Kosovo institution can provide proof of the organisation’s existence. One suspect says he has “no clue” where the prosecution found the group. Read our investigation here. 
    • An alliance that opposes traditional Albanian parties’ links with the Macedonian government is to march in Skopje to mark the first anniversary of deadly clashes in the town of Kumanovo. Read more here.
    • The fledging Besa political movement aims to win more rights and respect for ethnic Albanians in Macedonia and represent those who feel the 'establishment' Albanian parties are out of touch. Read our interview with their leader Bilall Kasami here.
    • Both the government and opposition parties in Bosnia's Serb-dominated Republika Srpska have announced a rally on May 14, in rival shows of strength ahead of October's local elections. Read more here.

    An interview with Robert Elsie who's exhibiting a photo collection of Edith Durham's travels in Albania, Kosovo & Montenegro on Wednesday in Prishtina.

    Romania and Bulgaria will contend with and become increasingly involved in Europe's refugee crisis and the standoff between Russia and the West over Ukraine, global intelligence agency Stratfor stated in its latest analysis on the geopolitical challenges for the two Balkan countries, published on May 9.
    According to Stratfor, the refugee crisis will hamper the efforts of the two EU member states to join the Schengen zone due to increased restrictions on the free movement in the region, as well as growing nationalist and anti-Schengen attitudes among some European countries. 

    In terms of the Russia-West conflict, the agency predicts that Romania and Bulgaria will continue to accept the West's military buildup, but notes that Bulgaria will maintain its traditional ties with Moscow.
    Opposition parties in Bosnia's Serb-dominated entity, Rebpulika Srpska, still plan to hold their protest against the entity's government on May 14 even if they do not get the permission to do so, representatives from the opposition Alliance for Change coalition said during a press conference in Republika Srpska's main city, Banja Luka, on Tuesday.

    "We will be in the first line [during the protest] and we will demonstrate against the government in a peaceful way," Igor Crnadak, Bosnian foreign affairs minister and deputy president of the opposition's Party of Democratic Progress, told the press.

    Opposition leaders added that the decision of the entity's government to organise a counter-protest also in Banja Luka, on the same date and at the same time, could be a security risk.

    "Anything could happen," Dragan Cavic, the leader of opposition National Democratic Movement, NDP, said, arguing that the counter-rally organised by the government might lead to public disorder.

    The belief that #Kosovo’s political leaders will shed their predatory inclination and become genuine statesmen is delusional, argues Andrea Capussela in this analysis for EUROPP.Capussela concludes that if the West is unable or unwilling to confront Kosovo’s leadership and expose them to political and economic competition, it should scale down its involvement to the level of other countries in the region.

    Members of Bosnia's Federal Police Directorate, FUP, and of the Federal Department for Insepction Affairs, FUZIP, searched several "unofficial" mosques, which operate outside of the control of the Bosnian Islamic Community, on Thursday in the Cazin, Donji Vakuf and Maglaj municipalities, Bosnian media reported.

    Since the beginning of 2016, the Islamic Community has conducted negotations with 38 "unofficial" mosques - locally known as paradzemati - para-mosques - to try to bring them back under its authority, but has only been successful in 14 cases.

    Currently 22 para-mosques still operate in the country, some of which are reportedly connected to the radicalisation of Bosnian Muslims and their conversion to the cause of Islamic jihad.

    Members of the Federal Police Directorate | Photo: FUP 

    Indian pharmaceutical company ACG Worldwide will build a medicine manufacturing facility in Croatia's capital Zagreb, the company's managing director, Ajit Singh, announced on Monday.

    The investment, worth 35 million euros, is the first in Croatia by an Indian company.

    Ajit Singh (left) and Croatian Prime Minister Tihomir Oreskovic (right). Photo: Twitter 

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