Balkan Developments

Hague tribunal confirms joint criminal enterprise headed by Franjo Tudjman against Bosnian Muslims

Photo: BTAThe International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia has confirmed the conviction for complicity in a joint criminal enterprise against the Bosnian Muslims by Croatia’s former government, headed by President Franjo Tudjman, dismissing the appeal by the defendants. At first instance the 6 defendants were sentenced to a total of 111 years of imprisonment for persecution, murder, rape, deportation, keeping people in captivity, destruction of property and other crimes against the Bosnian Muslims during the 1992-1995 war. As the judges delivered their decision, Slobodan Praljak, former Bosnian Croat military commander drank a phial of poison, stating he was not a war criminal. He died in hospital later.

New US ambassador Hoyt Brian Yee: Macedonia is moving in the right direction

Photo: mk.usembassy.govFormer US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Hoyt Brian Yee will be the new US ambassador to Macedonia. In recent years Yee has played a key role in resolving the political crises in Albania, Macedonia and Montenegro. His appointment comes as confirmation of Washington’s growing commitment to the Balkans, largely over the attempts by Moscow to spread its influence in the region. “Macedonia is moving again in the right direction and should use the positive momentum and support from Euro-Atlantic friends,” Hoyt Brian Yee said.

Serbia begins construction of Chinese-funded railway to Budapest

Photo: voanews.comSerbia is starting the construction of the Chinese-funded railway line to Budapest in order to improve its infrastructure. It is expected to consolidate Chinese influence in Europe. In May, Serbia took out a 297.6 million dollar loan from the Chinese Exim Bank for the modernization of the railway section from Belgrade to the Hungarian capital Budapest. Serbia, which is a candidate for accession to the EU, and Hungary, which is an EU member are part of Beijing’s “One belt, one road” initiative which aims to open up new external trade connections for Chinese companies. The high-speed railway between Belgrade and Budapest is expected to cost a total of 3.2 billion euro and to become the main transport route for Chinese commodities coming by sea at the Greek port of Piraeus and other parts of Europe.

Restoration of Bulgarian iron church St. Stephen in Istanbul almost completed

Photo: en.wikipedia.orgThe full restoration of the Bulgarian Orthodox church St. Stephen in Istanbul is almost complete. The inaugural ceremony of the restored church will take place on 7 January, 2018 and will be attended by Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov and Turkey’s President Recep Erdogan. The St. Stephen church, better known as the Iron Church, was built in 1898 and its gilded dome rises to a height of 40 metres. It is considered to be the most valuable monument of Bulgaria’s historical and cultural heritage not only in Turkey, but outside Bulgaria as a whole. Until 10 years ago or so, the church seemed doomed due to corrosion of its iron structure. Under a project by the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, the restoration of the Iron Church began in 2011, under a Bulgaria-Turkey intergovernmental agreement on mutual protection of monuments of culture.

Compiled by Miglena Ivanova

English version: Milena Daynova

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