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Balkan Developments

Stevo Pendarovski: The joint commission on historical issues with Bulgaria has hit a dead end

Photo: EPA / BGNESThe President of North Macedonia Stevo Pendarovski stated that the joint commission on historical issues with Bulgaria has hit a dead end. With his statement that Gotse Delchev was a Bulgarian fighting for the freedom of Macedonia, Pendarovski wanted to reinforce the Macedonian negotiating position. In the words of the President, for political reasons, the Bulgarian side is demanding that everything that took place at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century be attributed only to Bulgarian history.  The main objective of the commission, in Pendarovski’s words, is to talk about historical figures and events, but not about every one of them but only about those that are shared.

Serbia and Bulgaria consider ways to ease cross-border traffic

Photo: BGNESThe authorities in Sofia are considering ways to facilitate the crossing of the border by Bulgarian and Serbian citizens who have to do so on a daily basis. At a meeting in Tsaribrod (Dimitrovgrad), Serbia, Deputy Prime Minister of Serbia Zorana Mihajlovic and Bulgarian Minister of Transport Rosen Zhelyazkov saw for themselves how difficult traffic is at the border checkpoints Kalotina-Gradina in summer. Vladica Dimitrov, mayor of Tsaribrod municipality stated that a technical solution must be found quickly for the people in Eastern Serbia who work in Bulgaria. The Serbian side is planning to expand its border checkpoint Gradina in 2020, and the Bulgarian side – to add two more lanes. The interior ministers of the two countries are to discuss measures to resolve the seasonal problem of foreign workers in summer when the lines of vehicles reach up to 14 kilometres.

Resignation of Kosovo PM gives rise to more speculation

Photo: EPA / BGNESMedia in the west are reading the resignation of the Prime Minister of Kosovo Ramush Haradinaj as a sign that Pristina may once again start a discussion on Serbia’s demand for partitioning of the former Yugoslav province. But Haradinaj’s appearance before the court in The Hague to answer, one more time, for crimes committed during the 1999 war, instead of meeting with Serbia’s approval annoyed it. Belgrade is convinced that this is a “serious political scenario” after which pressure is expected to be exerted on Serbia to recognize Kosovo. Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic described these events as a “political trick” and warned that they will lead to a homogenization of the Albanians and an escalation of their hatred of the Serbian people because they see Serbs as the only culprits for what is happening to Haradinaj but also to Kosovo.

Laura Kovesi now the sole candidate for EU chief prosecutor

Photo: EPA / BGNESRomania’s magistrate Laura Kovesi, an emblem of the fight against corruption in the country, is now the only candidate running for chief prosecutor of the European Prosecutor's Office (EPPO), after France stated that it is withdrawing its candidate Jean-François Bohnert. The future European Prosecutor’s Office will be an independent body with the competence to investigate, prosecute and bring to judgment crimes against the EU budget, such as fraud, corruption or serious cross-border VAT fraud of over 10 million euro. The institution is to become operational at the end of 2020, and will include 22 countries. At this stage 6 countries are refusing to work with it. Kovesi was supported by the previous and the current European Parliament, whereas Bohnert had the support of the European Council. The ruling social democrats in Romania conducted a smear campaign against Laura Kovesi but ultimately suffered defeat.

Turkey begins to send back Syrian refugees

Photo: EPA / BGNESThe authorities in Istanbul have started a campaign for the return of Syrian migrants to the refugee camps where they have been registered as guests under temporary protection. The police are checking documents for residence registration on a massive scale and sending offenders back, persons considered to be dangerous are directly extradited to Syria. Refugees admitted to work are being fired in large numbers. According to the government one of the reasons why the Justice and Development Party suffered such a crushing defeat in Istanbul at the latest elections is the fact that the people of the city are worried that Syrians are begging in the streets, undercutting the cost of labour and contributing to a rise in home prices and rent.

Compiled by Ivo Ivanov

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