Balkan Developments

Macedonian government survives first vote of no confidence

Photo: europeanwesternbalkans.comThe Macedonian government survived its first vote of no confidence. The motion was submitted by the opposition VMRO-DPMNE just before Orthodox Easter over the cabinet’s approach to relations with Bulgaria and Greece. 63 of the 120 MPs voted against, and 40 – for. The no confidence vote was seen as a test for PM Zoran Zaev’s reformist programme and his policy aimed at improving relations with Bulgaria and Greece as a step towards accession to the EU and NATO. According to the VMRO-DPMNE, the good neighbour agreement with Bulgaria, ratified in January, is harmful to Macedonia. The party is also accusing the government of lacking any strategy in the negotiations with Greece on the settlement of the dispute over the name “Macedonia” that has been seething since 1991.

Critical report on Romania by Council of Europe’s Group of States Against Corruption

Photo: coe.intA report by the Council of Europe GRECO (Group of States Against Corruption) on Romania expresses serious concerns over some aspects of the recently approved legislation as well as the draft amendments to the criminal codes, the Bulgarian news agency BTA reports. GRECO urges Romania to submit a new version of reform proposals and to abandon the idea of amendments to the criminal law that would undermine the country’s capability of combating corruption.

Presidential elections in Montenegro on 15 April

Photo: BGNESPresidential elections will be held in Montenegro on 15 April, with a possible run-off a fortnight later if none of the candidates have earned more than 50 percent of the votes in the first round. Sitting President Filip Vujanovic, who has served as president for two consecutive 5-year terms of office after Montenegro gained its independence, is no longer eligible to run for president. There are seven candidates, among them former Prime Minister Milo Đukanović.

Vojislav Seselj sentenced to 10 years in the Hague, will not serve any time

Photo: BGNESThe International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in the Hague has sentenced Serb ultranationalist Vojislav Seselj to 10 years in prison, thus overturning the previous court acquittal on charges of crimes against humanity during the wars that accompanied the breakup of Yugoslavia. Appeals judges in a special chamber handling outstanding ICTY cases ruled that the first instance judges had failed to take proper account of the evidence of the role of the Serb ultranationalist in the persecution of Croats and Bosniaks at the beginning of the 1990s. Yet Seselj will not be spending a single day behind bars, as he has already spent 12 years in prison during the first trial against him.

Greece will not recognize Kosovo, Greek foreign minister says

Photo: BGNESGreece’s Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias stated in Belgrade, Serbia that Greece would not recognize the independence of Kosovo, stating that the planned opening of a Kosovo representation in Athens would be commercial and not diplomatic. Serbia’s Foreign Minister Ivica Dačić expressed gratitude for the support for Serbia’s territorial integrity. Kotzias is in Belgrade as part of his 3-day Balkan tour.

Turkish intelligence agents bring Gulenists back to Ankara from Africa

Photo: BGNESAgents of Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MIT) have captured, in Gabon, and returned to Athens three high-ranking functionaries of Fethulah Gulen’s organization FETO. The suspects detained in the capital Libreville were transported back to Turkey by a designated Turkish intelligence airplane and handed over to the judicial authorities. Papers, proving a connection with FETO, large sums of money and various electronic devises found on them have been confiscated. One of the men – Osman Ozpanar – was director of the International Turkish Gabon School in Libreville, and since 2017– education coordinator and director-general of the Light Academy which operates in Kenya.

Compiled by: Miglena Ivanova

English version: Milena Daynova

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