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Balkan Developments

At UN session Greece calls on Turkey to restore museum status of Hagia Sophia

Greece, along with a number of international organizations, wants Turkey to return the former status of the Hagia Sophia Museum in Istanbul. Ankara turned the ancient architectural monument into a mosque in 2020. Greek Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikos Dendias spoke at the 46th regular session of the Human Rights Council, BTA has reported. The diplomat pointed out that the topic of exercising cultural rights and protection of cultural heritage was particularly important for Greece. "The transformation of the Hagia Sophia into a mosque contradicts any concept of respect for cultural heritage," the Greek minister said.

European Parliament criticizes Serbia

MEPs from the European Parliament's Committee on Foreign Affairshave shown concerns over Serbia's continued support for Russia's annexation of Crimea in the UN General Assembly. This is seen in the report on the country's progress on its path to the EU. MEPs are also concerned about China's growing influence in the Western Balkans and the lack of transparency in assessing the environmental and social impact of Chinese investments and loans, the document reads. Belgrade has been called upon to show convincing results in reforming the judiciary, protecting freedom of expression and in the fight against corruption and organized crime. "Normalization of relations between Serbia and Kosovo is a priority and a precondition for both countries to join the EU," MEPs concluded, BGNES has reported.

Croatia wants to buy F-35 jets, US offers it F-16

“Croatia has asked about the F-35 at some point, but Lockheed Martin is now offering the F-16,” Lockheed Martin’s director of public relations for Europe, John Neilson, said. A spokesman for the Croatian Embassy in the United States said Zagreb, which currently owns only the obsolete MiG-21, "is evaluating an offer for the new US F-16 Block 70/72 aircraft. The offer will compete with other offers for multi-purpose jet fighters, both new or used," the source said as quoted by BTA.

Montenegrins will also be able to have Serbian citizenship

After 12 years Montenegro can finally allow its citizens dual citizenship - Montenegrin and Serbian, Prime Minister Zdravko Krivokapić wrote on Twitter. "Many citizens who have lived in Montenegro for many years, but have not received citizenship of our country deserve this issue to be finally resolved," Krivokapić said, adding that the government would soon start to address this issue. Dual Montenegrin and Serbian citizenship has not been allowed since 2008, According to the Law on Montenegrin Citizenship, BTA reports.

Romania starts extracting gas in the Black Sea in November

The first Romanian gas molecule in the Black Sea will be drilled this year, Energy Minister Virgil Popescu said. This will be done by the Black Sea Oil&Gas company from the Aurora perimeter, and from the Neptune Deep area, where the richest gas reserves are situated. The Minister announced the entry of Romgaz into the project. It would replace an American investor who wants to give up on gas drilling in the Black Sea, the minister added. The hope is that by 2025 more gas will be extracted than Romania’s needs, the minister was quoted as saying by Agerpres.

Turkey to continue supporting the Gagauz in Moldova

In Ankara, Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs Mevlut Cavusoglu met with the Governor of the autonomous region of Gagauzia in Moldova, Irina Vlah, Anadolu Agency reported. In a Twitter post, the Turkish foreign minister said the meeting was fruitful and that possibilities for co-operation had been discussed. Cavusoglu said that the Gagauz were a bridge of friendship between Turkey and Moldova and Ankara would continue to support them in every region. The Gagauz are a Turkic-speaking minority of Orthodox Christians in Moldova.

Compiled by: Ivo Ivanov

English: Alexander Markov

Photos: EPA/BGNES, lockheedmartin.com, blackseaog.com, mfa.gov.tr

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