Balkan Developments

1989 anti-communist revolution trial begins in Romania

Photo: REUTERSThe 1989 revolution trial has started at the High Court of Cassation and Justice in Romania. One of the defendants, accused of crimes against humanity, is former Romanian President Ion Iliescu.

89-year old Iliescu was represented by his lawyer. According to the indictment, against the background of worsening relations between Romania and the USSR after the 1968 events in Prague, and due to the widespread public discontent, the defendants formed a dissident group for overthrowing Nicolae Ceaușescu but leaving Romania within the sphere of influence of the USSR. The group included politicians and officers, marginalized, for one reason or another, by Ceaușescu. During the December 1989 events which brought down the communist regime in Romania, Iliescu, then leader of the Romanian National Salvation Front, and the group around him, acted widespread psychosis which led to indiscriminate shooting and contradictory military orders. As a result more than 860 people were killed and over 2,000 wounded.

Croatian MEP appointed EP rapporteur for the Western Balkans

Croatian MEP Tonino Picula has been appointed European Parliament rapporteur for the Western Balkans ahead of the summit in Zagreb in May 2020. He will be in charge of the drafting of recommendations by the EU to the European Council and the European Commission on the opening of accession negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania. One of the major challenges Picula will have to tackle in this report is finding a consensus, within the Council, on the process of enlargement with countries from the Western Balkans.

EU and US experts assess earthquake damage in Albania

Photo: EPA/BGNESAlbania’s Prime Minister Edi Rama has called on the international community to render the country expert and financial assistance for its recovery from the powerful 6.4 earthquake which rocked the Adriatic coast. The earthquake cost the lives of more than 50 people, more than 3,000 were injured and thousands were left homeless. The port city of Durrës, 33 kilometres west of the capital city Tirana and the nearby town of Tuman were hit hardest by the quake. Engineers from EU and the US, alongside local experts, have started to assess the damage inflicted by the earthquake. Balkan countries, including Bulgaria, have also responded sending material aid.

Cyprus criticizes Turkey-Libya agreement on maritime boundaries in the Mediterranean

Photo: dw.comCyprus’ Ministry of Foreign Affairs has condemned the agreement between Turkey and the UN-recognized government of Libya on the maritime boundaries between the two countries as a serious breach of international law which disregards the legal rights of other countries in the Eastern Mediterranean. Greece and Egypt have also expressed their disagreement. Turkey’s agreement with Libya adds more tension to the existing dispute with Greece, Cyprus and Egypt over hydrocarbons drilling rights in the Eastern Mediterranean.

US embassy in Athens warns of terrorist risk during holidays

Photo: EPA/BGNESThe US embassy in Athens has urged American citizens planning to visit Greece for the Christmas holidays to “exercise additional vigilance at holiday festivals and events, places of worship, and locations with large crowds… due to ongoing threats posed by transnational terrorist organizations and individuals inspired by violent extremist ideology throughout Europe. Violent extremists continue to focus on locations such as Christmas holiday markets, shopping malls, airports, clubs, restaurants, places of worship, transportation hubs, and other soft targets frequented by tourists…During the holiday season, security measures in Greece remain heightened”, the US embassy writes.

On its part the Greek ministry of the interior has not issued any warning of any real threat of terrorist attacks on the territory of the country.

Compiled by: Miglena Ivanova

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