Balkan news from the week of 17th – 23rd of March.

Serbian opposition parties have challenged the government’s decision to overhaul Serbian embassies around the world, after the government announced that more than half of its embassies will experience a personnel reshuffle.  The move that is to be completed by 30th March have been heavily criticised by the opposition Democratic Party, claiming that it is politically motivated, as most of the personnel who are to be recalled were appointed under the previous Democratic party government.

The EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton is optimistic about sealing a deal on Northern Kosovo during the next round of talks between Serbia and Kosovo on 2nd April. Serbia wants more autonomy for the Serbian population in the region, whereas Kosovo is demanding the abolishment of the so-called ‘parallel’ structures.

Ahead of EU accession on 1st July, Croatia is undergoing its first European Parliament elections. Though these votes will be of significant symbolic importance, Croatians are also experiencing voter apathy, with suggestions that a 30% voter turnout will be considered successful. Croatia will be represented by 12 Members of the European Parliament until the general parliamentary elections in EU next year.

Macedonians are taking part in nationwide local elections on Sunday, which have so far been described as calm. There were fears of disruption and incidents on the eve of the elections, mainly between ethnic Albanians and Macedonians.

And finally, Croatia beat Serbia 2-0 during the World Cup Qualifier matches on Friday. This was the first time that the two countries have met in a football match since becoming two separate states. Travelling Serbian fans were not allowed to attend the match, and the event was marred by abusive chants by the home fans throughout the event. The two fierce rivals will be facing each other in Serbia in September.

Photo courtesy of Damien Smith.

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