Balkan Developments

Fight against corruption and organized crime common problems of all Western Balkan countries

Photo: EPA/BGNESThe European Parliament assessed the progress made in Serbia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Albania and Montenegro on their path towards possible EU accession. The document of the MEPs reads that the Western Balkan countries have common problems such as rule of law, the fight against corruption and organized crime. The EP rapporteur on Serbia David McAllister and the EP rapporteur on Kosovo Igor Soltes were categorical that Kosovo must abolish the 100% customs duties introduced for items imported from Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Commissioner for European Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn said the reforms in Kosovo are made slowly. The document of the EP also reads that normalization of relations with Kosovo is a key factor for the progress of Serbia towards its EU accession. Serbia needs to enhance reforms, especially in the rule of law field, the document further reads.

Diplomatic relations between Turkey and EU intensify

Photo: turkeytribune.comA new EU-Turkey summit like the one held this year in Bulgaria’s coastal city of Varna is likely to be held after the elections for European Parliament in 2019. The EU-Turkey Summit hosted by Bulgaria’s Premier Boyko Borissov was held in March 2018. Turkey’s President Recep Erdogan, The President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker and the President of the European Council Donald Tusk attended the summit. According to the Anadolu Agency, the next summit will be preceded by a series of forums between Brussels and Ankara on energy, economic, transport and other issues. Meanwhile, Turkey’s Deputy Minister of Foreign affairs and Director for EU Affairs Ambassador Faruk Kaymakcı wrote in the social media that progress has been made under the fulfillment of the reforms in Turkey’s EU accession process at the sitting of the EU-Turkey Joint Parliamentary Committee in Brussels.

Macedonia’s National Assembly approves name change deal with Greece

Photo: reuters.comMacedonia’s National Assembly approved the constitutional amendments related to this country’s new name. 67 MPs voted in favor, 23 MP voted against and 4 MPs abstained. According to the amendments, the name Republic of Macedonia will be changed with Northern Macedonia in the country’s constitution in line with the Prespa agreement signed between Macedonia’s Premier Zoran Zaev and Greece’s Premier Alexis Tsipras on June 17 this year. The historical agreement ended the naming dispute between the two countries and paved Macedonia’s way towards NATO and EU membership.

TAP and TANAP gas pipelines complete successfully their connection

Photo: azernews.azThe Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) and the Trans Anatolian Pipeline (TANAP) successfully completed their connection. This marks a significant milestone in the completion of the Southern Gas Corridor (SGC), a new energy route which will increase energy security and diversification of energy supplies by bringing natural gas from Shah Deniz 2 gas field in the Caspian Sea to Turkey, and subsequently to the European markets. The connection with TAP with TANAP signals that we are moving towards completion of the Southern Gas Corridor and we will be delivering gas to Europe according to our schedule in 2020, a representative of TAP announced.

Kosovo refuses to abolish customs duties imposed on Serbia

Photo: rs.n1info.comKosovo cabinet would rather fall rather than revoke the decision on the customs duties introduced on Serbian goods, the Advisor of Kosovo’s Premier Ramush Haradinaj Avni Arifi told the web portal Lajmi in reaction to the statement of the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that Kosovo should eliminate the 100% customs duties introduced on Serbian goods. Mike Pompeo called on the authorities in Pristina to eliminate the customs duties on Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina at a meeting with Kosovo’s President Hashim Thaçi. The High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini also called on the Kosovo authorities to abolish the customs duties on Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina

Nearly 60% of the Romanians approve unification with Moldova

Photo: romania-insider.comThe majority of Romanian citizens approve unification between Romania and the Republic of Moldova, a survey of Vanguard Institute shows. According to the survey, 59% of the Romanians rather support the idea of unification with Moldova, 27% are rather against and 14% of the citizens did not answer. 85% of the surveyed Romanians said they were proud of being Romanians and 8% said the opposite. 49% of all Romanian nationals who took part at the survey said that Hungary is this country’s strongest neighbor. 19% said Ukraine was Romania’s strongest neighbor, 14% chose Moldova, 11% said Serbia and 4% said Bulgaria was their country’s strongest neighbor.

24 hour Greek media blackout ahead of general strike held last Wednesday

Photo: EPA/BGNESThe media in Greece held a 24 hour strike as part of the labor union campaign before the general strike last Wednesday. The syndicates, including GSEE, called on Greece’s Premier Alexis Tsipras to increase wages after this country left the third bailout programme. GSEE calls on the authorities to increase minimum monthly salary from EUR 580 to 751. Greece left the third bailout programme in August this year, but the country is still committed to maintain primary budget surplus of 3.5% of the GDP by 2020 and 2.2% by 2060. Unemployment dropped under 20% for the first time since 2011, but most citizens are still expressing their discontent with the heavy taxes and drastically reduced incomes.

Compiled by: Manuel Savov

English version: Kostadin Atanasov

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