Balkan developments

PMs of Greece and Macedonia to meet in Sofia this week

Photo: BGNES

After prolonged talks with the foreign ministers of Greece and Macedonia, Nikos Kotzias and Nikola Dimitrov, held near Athens at the end of last week, Matthew Nimetz UN’s Special Representative for the naming dispute between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia announced that the PMs of the two countries – Alexis Tsipras and Zoran Zaev - would be meeting in Sofia on 17 May. He went on to describe the negotiations at a ministerial level as serious, frequently tense but ultimately positive. The upcoming meeting between the two prime ministers will take place within the frameworks of the EU-Western Balkans summit in Bulgaria’s capital Sofia.

Athens expects positive development on name dispute


The Greek government is expecting a positive development at the negotiations on the Macedonia name dispute, said government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos. The media in Greece commented that the latest Kotzias-Dimitrov talks ironed out the differences between the two countries and opened the way to a meeting between the two prime ministers which will be the final phase in the negotiations and will generate a crucial solution at a summit level.

Media and political structures in Macedonia spread anti-Western propaganda in 2017


In 2017 Macedonia faced serious hybrid threats that coincided with the change of government and the building of new relations with the neighbouring countries, reads the annual report of Macedonia’s Intelligence Agency. The agency’s priorities last year were to uncover and localize the destructive influence of external forces that make use of media and political structures inside Macedonia and the region in an attempt to sway public opinion, forming anti-Western positions (against the EU and NATO), the report reads. The intelligence agency also devoted particular attention during the year to problems connected with illegal migration, religious extremism, international terrorism and transnational crime.

Belgrade does not accept UN membership for Kosovo in exchange for an Association of Serb Municipalities


Serbia will not accept membership of the UN for Kosovo in exchange for an Association of Serb Municipalities, said Milovan Drecun, chairman of the parliamentary committee on Kosovo. Before this statement was made, some media in Serbia announced that the Western countries were considering the option of a change of format in the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue. According to Tanjug the idea was to include more mediators in the negotiations and obtain things that are unacceptable to Serbia in a hurry. The Serb Telegraf newspaper published 11 “key points” from a document called “A plan of support for the international integration of Kosovo”, which is alleged to have been endorsed by USA, Germany, France, UK and Italy. The paper writes that the plan involves pressure, with the ultimate objective of Kosovo’s full independence and до steering Belgrade away from Moscow.

Erdogan wants a Muslim country to sit on UN Security Council


At an international student forum in Istanbul, organized by the Federation of International Student Associations, Turkish President Recep Erdogan stated that the UN must be reformed. Stating that Turkey supports any platform that will make the world a more just place, the president repeated that no Muslim country sits on the UN Security Council. “We want justice,” he said. Including a Muslim country in the Council will, according to the Turkish head of state, dispel the current atmosphere in which there are some who are afraid of the current five UN Security Council permanent members.

Former Albanian interior minister investigated for drug trafficking


The court in Tirana has placed former interior minister Saimir Tahiri under house arrest. Tahiri, who was a close associate of PM Edi Rama for many years, was interior minister from 2013 until 2017. Last week he resigned as MP. He is accused of connections to a drug ring involved in trafficking cannabis in huge amounts, headed by a relative of Tahiri’s who has been arrested in Italy. The ex-interior minister denies the charges and says he will seek justice and sue anyone who has made accusations against him.

Compiled by Stoimen Pavlov

English version: Milena Daynova

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