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Balkan Developments

Western Balkans countries seek way out of corona-crisis together

Photo: archive

To adopt practical measures for deepening regional economic cooperation and recovery from the economic crisis due to Covid-19 – these were the principal objectives of an online meeting of the leaders of the countries of the Western Balkans. The leaders of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia reached agreement to work towards eliminating the barriers standing in the way of economic growth, to enhance the long-term competitiveness of the region, and its development into a region attractive to investors, writes Koha Ditore newspaper in Kosovo, as quoted by Focus news agency. They welcomed the commitment by the US Development Finance Corporation to give priority to investments in the region.

Difficult Serbia-Kosovo negotiations in Brussels

Photo: archive

A second expert meeting was held in Brussels within the frameworks of the dialogue between Serbia and Kosovo. The talks are mediated by EU Special Representative Miroslav Lajčák, the Kosovo newspaper Gazeta Express wrote, as quoted by Focus news agency. The Serbian delegation was headed by Marko Juric, Director of the Serbian Government's Office for Kosovo, and the delegation of Kosovo – by Skender Hyseni, national coordinator in the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue. After the meeting Juric told reporters that the negotiations on the return of the displaced persons and their statute had been particularly difficult. According to data of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, around 107,000 people have been displaced from Kosovo. Most live in Serbia, the rest – in Montenegro and North Macedonia.

Turkey approves social media regulation law

Photo: BGNES

Turkish parliament approved a social media regulation law. Critics say that it will increase censorship in the country and will silence dissent, Reuters reports.  The law requires foreign social media sites to appoint Turkish-based representatives to address authorities’ concerns over content and includes deadlines for removal of material they take exception to. Companies could face fines, blocked advertisements or have bandwidth slashed.

According to Turkish President Recep Erdogan the increase in “immoral activity” online is due to lack of regulation.

Greece signs contract with Turkish company for 50 drones

Photo: krbmetaldetectors.com

Greece has concluded a contract with a Turkish company for the delivery of 50 drones, CNN Türk reports as quoted by the Bulgarian news agency BTA. The contract was signed by the Greek defence ministry and the Turkish company Assuva. The company has already delivered two Elic RB-128 drones to Greece, which have undergone successful testing. Assuva says that this is the company’s first export contract to a country which is a member of NATO and the EU.

Renaming of streets in Belgrade elicits strong reactions

Photo: Facebook / Горан Весић

The planned renaming of streets in Belgrade whose names are “geographical concepts from the republics of the former Yugoslavia” triggered a storm of reactions in Serbia, the BBC’s Serbian service reports, as quoted by the Bulgarian news agency BTA.

According to Belgrade deputy mayor Goran Vesic the names of streets should be changed when they are connected with “countries which are obliterating everything that is a reminder of anything Serbian”. As an example he pointed out that the names will be changed of streets like “Splitska”, “Ljubljanska”, “Sarajevska”, named after towns “in which there is no street called “Belgradska”.

However the names of some of these streets are older than the former Yugoslavia. Many of them are named after toponyms in the Balkans from the end of the 19th century, historian Dubravka Stojanovic told the BBC. In her words the decision to rename streets is an assertion of a “new wave of nationalism” in Serbia aiming to draw the attention of the public away from the problems of the day.

Compiled by Milgena Ivanova

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