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Balkan Developments

The Montreux Convention will not apply to the Istanbul Canal


The Montreux Convention regarding the Straits will not apply to the future Istanbul Canal, said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The Istanbul Canal has nothing to do with the Montreux Convention on Freedom of Navigation. The new facility will also give Turkey greater security by strengthening its sovereignty and independence, Haberturk TV reported.

The capacity of the Bosphorus Straits is 25,000 ships a year, but in fact more than 40,000 pass through. To cross the straits, ships must wait for about a week, BGNES reported.

Montenegro is facing bankruptcy due to unprofitable highway


The EU is concerned about Montenegro's debt, but cannot help repay a $ 1 billion loan taken out by a Chinese bank, European Commission spokesman Peter Stano said.

Brussels has offered Montenegro, which a candidate for EU membership, to help finance the highway from the port of Bar to Serbia. From 161 km only 40 have been built, at a cost of 20m euros per kilometer. The European Commission has expressed concern about the effect of Chinese investment in the region. The loan with a 2% annual interest rate sharply increased government debt.

The country with a population of 622,000 has an external debt of 4.33 billion euros, or 103% of GDP. After the pandemic year, which took away the main income from tourism, Montenegro raised taxes and partially froze state wages, Politico writes.

Romania's health minister dismissed for failing to tackle the pandemic


Romanian Prime Minister Florin Cîțu has fired Health Minister Vlad Voiculescu after weeks of growing tensions and a failure to tackle the pandemic. Dan Barna, who is deputy prime minister, has taken over the post temporarily.

The "last straw" in the accumulated public discontent against Voiculescu came with the deaths of three infected patients due to a problem with breathing apparatus in Bucharest.

In early April, the already ex-minister was fined for refusing to wear a mask in parliament.

Serbia launches Sputnik V vaccine production


The Serbian Institute of Virology Torlak has begun production of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine in Serbia. Russia's direct investment fund says Serbia is becoming the first country in southern Europe to produce Sputnik V. The process meets the best standards in the production of vaccines and can later be exported to other countries in the region, the fund said.

During a visit to the Torlak Institute, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said the country would also start producing the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine in six to nine months, TANYUG reported.

The Greek-Turkish talks in Ankara pass with no progress


The foreign ministers of Greece and Turkey exchanged accusations on a wide range of issues related to the status of the St. Sophia temple in Istanbul to the relations with the minorities in both countries, AFP reports.

Turkish authorities consider it possible to resolve bilateral issues with Greece through dialogue, said Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu. "This meeting was held in a sincere atmosphere. We believe that we will be able to solve the problems, as neighbours and allies, with the help of a constructive dialogue," stressed the first Turkish diplomat. He acknowledged that there are currently differences between Athens and Ankara in the scope of the Aegean sea border, but Turkey is determined to "continue negotiations without preconditions".

Nikos Dendias threatened Turkey with sanctions over its Aegean policy, but invited Cavusoglu to continue the talks in Athens.

Compiled by Ivo Ivanov

English version: Rossitsa Petcova

Photos: EPA/BGNES and euractiv.com

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