Balkan Developments

Turkey has opened world’s largest airport

Photo: designboom.comA new airport has opened in Istanbul, which, according to the Turkish authorities, will become the largest airport in the world. Its construction costs 26.1 billion euros. Currently, however, only the first out of the four phases of construction that started in 2014,has been completed. The remaining stages should be completed by 2023. Upon completion, the airport will have a capacity of 200 million passengers a year, which is supposed to make it the largest airport in the world. Currently the airport can service 90 million passengers. The construction of the airport has not been going without problems. 500 people were arrested during protests at the construction site over fatal accidents and bad working conditions. 30 workers lost their lives during construction.

Bulgaria, Greece, Serbia and Romania could make a joint bid to host World Cup 2030

Photo: BGNESBulgaria, Greece, Serbia and Romania have been considering making a joint bid to host World Cup 2030. This is what Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov said in Varna, where a high-level meeting of the four Balkan countries took place on November 2. Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay have already announced they would make a joint bid to host the tournament. Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria will do the same. Great Britain is another candidate. Spain is also considering a possible bid together with Portugal. At the World Cup in 2026 for the first time 48 teams will participate in the tournament that will take place in the US, Mexico and Canada. The news from Evksinograd residence near Varna became a major topic in media across the Balkans. Macedonian media expressed surprise over the fact that the country was not included given that the Skopje stadium is one of the most modern in the region and has already hosted the match for the 2017 UEFA Super Cup.

Romanian Presidency of Council of EU to focus on tourism

Photo: BGNESRomania plans to use its presidency of the Council of the EU, starting on January 1, 2019, in order to boost its tourism industry, which was on the rise, according to State Secretary at the Ministry of Tourism, Gheorghe Tomoioaga. He added that Romania was developing all types of tourism - sea, cultural, adventurous, and 2017th was the best year for Romanian tourism over the past 10 years. Tourism is not part of European legislation but at the same time provides 25 million jobs within the Union, so the objectives of the Romanian Presidency will be the inclusion of tourism in the EU's Multi-annual Financial Framework for the next programming period 2021-2027.

Kosovo Parliament rejects resolution banning Thaci from border negotiations

Photo: BGNESKosovo's parliament did not accept a resolution proposed by the opposition, which planned to ban any political leader, including the country's president, from negotiating border changes with Serbia. The debate on the dialogue with Serbia was full of mutual accusations, attacks and personal insults among MPs from the government and the opposition. Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, but ethnic Serb groups in Kosovo and ethnic Albanians in Serbia remain a source of tension. Belgrade does not recognize Kosovo's independence. Kosovo President Hashim Thaci said he supported a "border correction" with Serbia, providing for the accession of Serbian Presevo valley, but without offering anything in return. Other leaders on both sides have also suggested that an exchange of territories is being discussed.

Greece and Macedonia reopen flights between Athens and Skopje after a 12-year break

Photo: BGNESAfter a 12-year break, passenger flights between Greece and the Republic of Macedonia resumed. This is happening at a time when Athens and Skopje have started a process of improving relations after the agreement reached in June to put an end to the longstanding name dispute over the name of the former Yugoslav republic. Direct flights between Skopje and Athens were operational between 2003 and 2007 but they were discontinued when the former Macedonian government named the Skopje Airport "Alexander the Great", which angered Athens. Now an hour-long flight of Aegean Airlines between the two capitals will take place twice a week.

Risk of crisis as Bosnia struggles to provide shelter to migrants in winter

Photo: total-croatia-news.comAs winter approaches, authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina are in a hurry to prevent a humanitarian crisis as thousands of migrants currently have no proper shelter, while temperatures keep falling. The poor Balkan state has become a stop on the new road to the EU for migrants from Asia, the Middle East and North Africa. About 20,000 people have crossed the country this year, with the intentions to reach neighboring EU Member Croatia. But Bosnia, which has its own economic and political problems, is reluctant to accept newcomers and the process of opening reception centers is slow. The UN Refugee Agency has warned that the situation could turn into a "humanitarian tragedy" when the first snow falls.

Compiled by: Manuel Savov

English: Alexander Markov

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