Balkan developments

Roaming charges between Western Balkan countries fall

Photo: BGNESThe roaming prices between North Macedonia, Serbia, Montenegro, Albania, Kosovo and Bosnia and Herzegovina fall with 27% on July 1. These countries are planning to introduce zero roaming charges by 2021. The price reduction was negotiated at the Second Western Balkans Digital Summit and is a precondition to start a procedure for lifting roaming charges with the EU. However, the July 1 reduction does not concern the roaming tariffs with Bulgaria and Greece.

Serbian retailers in Kosovo go on strike

Photo: libraryThe Association of Businessmen in North Kosovo announced that on July 1 it closed food stores and bakeries north of Ibar River. The measure is a form of protest against the 100% customs tariffs on the import of Serbian goods introduced by Pristina. The owners of restaurants and petrol stations promised to join the boycott. Supplies of medicines to the local pharmacies have been suspended in the past ten days. Kindergartens are also expected to close. The protest does not have any deadline. The Kosovo authorities accused Belgrade that emptying the shops is part of a plan to cause artificial humanitarian crises and international intervention.

Local elections in Albania: record low voter turnout, no incidents, boycott of the opposition parties

Photo: BGNESThe local elections held in Albania on June 30 were tense, but went without any serious incidents. Voter turnout hit record lows and was only 21.6%. The elections will be remembered with a boycott of the oppositions, which happens for the first time since the fall of the totalitarian regime in 1990. The main opposition did not participate at the local elections. That is why there was only one candidate in 31 out of all 61 municipalities. Two coalitions competed at the latest mayoral elections in Albania- the Alliance for a European Albania headed by the Socialist Party of Premier Edi Rama and Hope for Change led by the Red and Black Alliance. 7 independent candidates and 9 political parties participated at the local elections as well.

New Democracy aims at absolute majority in the Greek Parliament

Photo: BGNESEarly Parliamentary elections will be held in Greece on July 7. According to the forecasts, the right-wing New Democracy will defeat the ruling left-wing SYRIZA party. The opposition led by Kyriakos Mitsotakis is expected to win the elections by a big margin. New Democracy is expected to earn between 155 and 164 seats in the Greek Parliament ( 300 seats) and rule independently without forming a coalition cabinet. Despite the bright forecasts, Kyriakos Mitsotakis said that the victory is not a fact yet and warned that if votes are dissipated for other right-wing formations Greece will head for new elections in August.

Croatia to choose between F-16 and Gripen fighter aircraft

Photo: lockheedmartin.comCroatia started a procedure for acquisition of new fighter aircraft for its armed forces. This country sought offers from the American Lockheed martin and the Swedish Saab. Zagreb already stated to negotiate with representatives of the two companies. The offers will be examined in the autumn of 2019 and the contract with the selected supplier will be signed in June 2020 at the latest. Croatia, which is a NATO member, is currently protecting its airspace with MIG021 fighter jets. It maintains this aircraft with Ukrainian help.

Turkey expected to receive Russian missile system S-400 within 10 days

Photo: BGNESTurkey is expected to receive the Russian missile system S-400 within 10 days, this country’s President Recep Erdogan said. After the negotiations with the US President Donald Trump Erdogan said that Ankara and Washington are strategic partners and that no sanctions should exist between them. However, experts wonder whether Turkey’s head of state understood well Trump’s message, because the US Congress adopted categorical decisions that if the Russian missile system is deployed in Turkey this country will not receive the US fifth generation fighter aircraft.

Bulgaria’s conception on Belene NPP is interesting, yet not entirely clear: North Macedonia’s Deputy Premier Kocho Angjushev

Photo: dnevnik.bgThe fastest, simplest and cheapest way for North Macedonia to secure electricity supplies for a longer period of time is through joining the construction of Belene nuclear power plant in Bulgaria, this country’s Deputy Premier Kocho Angjushev said. The Bulgarian authorities already announced that they were waiting to receive offers and was searching for partners to fulfill this energy project and that North Macedonia should decide whether to participate in the construction of the project. However, in Kocho Angjushev’s words, Bulgaria’s conception is not entirely clear and a financial schedule has not been made yet. That is why it is early to speak of concrete fulfillment of the Belene NPP project, Kocho Angjushev further said.

Written by: Ivo Ivanov

English version: Kostadin Atanasov

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