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Balkan developments

Turkey’s President Recep Erdogan hopes for a deal with US President Trump


Turkey’s President Recep Erdogan will discuss the purchase of US Patriot missiles with the US President Donald Trump during the United Nations General Assembly. The second battery of Russian S-400 missile defense systems was delivered to Ankara, but Erdogan hopes that his personal bond with US President Trump could overcome a crisis caused by Ankara buying Russian air defense system. The US State Department already announced that an offer to sell Patriot missile system to Ankara has expired. Turkey’s head of state said that president Trump would accept all his arguments, because being allies, the two countries have common interests to establish a safe zone along the Syrian border stretching from the Euphrates River to the Iraq border.

Greece wants to pay back part of its International Monetary Fund loans


Greece has demanded permission from the Eurozone to pay back part of the country’s expensive International Monetary Fund loans ahead of their maturity. Thus, Athens hopes to restore the international trust in this country’s economy. Greece’s new Finance Minister Christos Staikouras said that the move would boost the viability of the Greek debt. The European Stability Mechanism of the 19 Eurozone members keeps a large part of Greece’s state debt and controls the implementation of reforms in the country. Athens officially ended the third and last bailout programme in August 2018. However, Greece’s state debt remains high-EUR 335 billion, or 180% of this country’s gross domestic product.

Romania’s external debt increases sharply


Romania’s foreign debt increased in the first 7 months of 2019 with over EUR 8 billion against the backdrop of the political crisis in this country. The increase is mainly due to the loans made by this country’s Ministry of Finance through the issuance of Eurobonds to the tune of EUR 5 billion, the National Bank of Romania announced. Moreover, Romania’s public administration issued securities amounting to over EUR 2.1 billion. Thus, the long-term external debt of this country exceeded EUR 73 billion and the short-term debt reached EUR 34 billion, Romania’s national bank informs.

Parents of children with special educational needs protest in Zagreb

Photo: Damjan Tadic / CROPIX

Parents of children with special educational needs protested in Zagreb demanding the hiring of a higher number of school assistants who can help the children with special needs to be better included in education. The protesters pointed out that in the beginning of the new school year hundreds of children with disabilities were left without assistants. The school assistants also protested against the violation of their labor rights. The hiring of a large number of school assistants is funded by EU finds. However, the assistants claim that they are getting paid less than agreed. Croatia’s Minister of Education Blaženka Divjak commented that the number of assistants of children with special needs is three times higher as compared to 2014.

Serbia’s state schools introduce digital education through robots and drones

Photo: Nenad Mihajlović / RAS SRBIJA

All Serbian schools will be equipped with small robots and drones available to students who can use them to program and learn through play, this country’s Education Minister Mladen Sercevic announced. This is one of the processes of digitalization, which is also part of the computer science education, Minister Sarcevic went on to say. 25% of the schools have been already equipped with such robots, called M-bots that help people demonstrate their skills in computer science and programming. The British Council in Belgrade donated GBP 4 million to this programme. We want to make Computer Science a mandatory subject for students from first to fourth grade, Minister Sercevic concluded.

Written by: Ivo Ivanov

English version: Kostadin Atanasov

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