Balkan developments

Nominations for President held in Macedonia

Photo: BGNES

The political parties in Macedonia have been working actively on the nominations for the forthcoming Presidential elections. The largest Albanian party in Macedonia the Democratic Union for Integration refused to support a common candadate with the Social Democratic Union (SDSM) headed by Premier Zoran Zaev. According to analysts, the Democratic Union for Integration will have a solid position at the run-off when they will give their votes for one of the two Presidential nominees. The task of the opposition party VMRO-DPMNE is even more difficult. This party must nominee a strong, popular, unifying and unblemished figure against the backdrop of the investigations for corruption against people from the former government.

71% of the Greek nationals will continue to call North Macedonia “Skopje”

Photo: BGNES

On February 6 Macedonia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikola Dimitrov will sign an accession protocol with NATO at the NATO headquarters in Brussels. The protocol will be signed in the presence of the member states’ Permanent Representatives to NATO. Once the accession protocol is signed, the next stage of the accession process will begin, to be followed by the ratification of the protocol in the National Assemblies of the NATO members. Greece is expected to ratify the protocol first on February 8. The procedure is expected to end by the middle of February. As a result, the name the Republic of North Macedonia will be officially introduced. A sociological survey of Gallup shows that 71% of the Greek nationals will continue to call its northern neighbor Skopje.

Pristina sets conditions to drop tariffs on Serbian imports

Photo: BGNES

Kosovo’s Premier Ramush Haradinaj does not succumb to the pressure of the EU and the USA to abolish the tariffs on Serbian imports and made a counter ultimatum. In order to abolish these duties Haradinaj called on Pristina’s western allies to organize an international conference to determine the border between Kosovo and Serbia and guarantee Kosovo’s accession to the United Nations. Meanwhile, Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic renewed the invitation to US President Donald Trump to visit Belgrade. Each agreement requires compromise from both sides. This cannot be imposed from outside, it must come from within and it should be an agreement that is lasting and implementable, the US Ambassador to Serbia Kyle Scott commented. It is clear that borders must be clear and this is an element of a comprehensive agreement, Ambassador Kyle Scott added.

Romania’s government increase budget spending

Photo: BGNES

Romania’s government published the 2019 budget draft. The budget deficit is estimated at 2.55% of the gross domestic product. The budget draft of 2019 state budget is built under the assumption that GDP will rise by 5.5% this year. Romania’s GDP is expected to exceed EUR 216 billion. The money spent on defense will amount to 2% of the country’s GDP and social expenditures will be nearly 11% of the GDP. The money allotted to healthcare is 12% more as compared to 2018 and the money for education will see a 50% increase year on year. Analysts expect that the 2019 draft budget will be adopted quickly at the Romanian National Assembly. However, The Mayor of Bucharest Gabriela Firea, opposed strongly to the Chairman of the ruling Social Democrat Party (PSD) Liviu Dragnea, because the budget draft cuts almost 25% of the Bucharest’s budget for this year (nearly EUR 180 million) as compared to 2018.

Greece’s Premier Alexis Tsipras to meet Turkey’s President Erdogan in Ankara

Photo: BGNES

On February 5 and 6 Greece’s Premier Alexis Tsipras will visit Turkey. In Ankara Premier Tsipras will meet Turkey’s President Recep Erdogan. On Wednesday Tsipras will visit the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople to voice his support for this institution. President Erdogan and Premier Tsipras will discuss the problems stemming from the Aegean Sea. Tsipras will demand ease of tension stemming from the violations of the Greek Air Space by Turkish fighter aircraft. Erdogan and Tsipras are also expected to talk about Cyprus, especially the growing hydro-carbon dispute between Turkey and Greek Cyprus and the Greek Cypriot-led gas exploration activities. President Erdogan and Premier Tsipras will also discuss migration topics and bilateral economic ties. Meanwhile, the Turkish authorities continue to demand from Greece to extradite the 8 Turkish soldiers who escaped to Greece after the failed coup attempt in 2016.

Written by: Ivo Ivanov

English version: Kostadin Atanasov

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