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Balkan Developments

The migrant-smuggling business in the Western Balkans worth millions of Euros


The Covid-19 pandemic does not affect migrant business in the Western Balkans. The market for smuggling migrants in this part of the continent is worth at least EUR 50 million per year, indicates a report of the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime (GI-TOC), quoted by BGNES. According to the document, the estimate value of the market fluctuates between EUR 11.8 million and EUR 17.7 million at the Greece-North Macedonia border and between EUR 7.5 million and EUR 11.5 million at the Greece-Albania border. According to Police information, between January and September 2020, border authorities prevented nearly 25,000 attempts by migrants to enter North Macedonia from Greece. According to the survey, the migrant routes often coincide with the drug routes.

Romania calls for stronger NATO presence in the region


Romania’s capital Bucharest hosted the B9 summit chaired by the two founders of the organization- Romania’s President Klaus Iohannis and the President of Poland Andrzej Duda. The other participants, including Bulgaria, joined the summit online. In a conversation with the U.S. President Joe Biden, Romania’s head of state Iohannis said that more NATO troops were needed on the alliance’s eastern flank, given the latest developments in Ukraine, reported Radio Romania. “The concerning security situation in the Black Sea-which we covered in the talks- shows us that we need to remain vigilant”, said President Iohannis.

EU-North Macedonia negotiations- only with the consent of Bulgaria


North Macedonia cannot start EU accession talks unless it resolves the dispute with Bulgaria, said the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen at a meeting with North Macedonia’s Premier Zoran Zaev, quoted by BGNES. During the two-day visit to Brussels, Zoran Zaev noted that North Macedonia would not agree to begin negotiations for EU membership at the expense of their identity and language. It became clear that the European Commission cannot take a decision to split the EU membership bids of North Macedonia and Albania and such a decision must be taken by the member states, if necessary.

Thousands protest in Turkey against Israel


A protest took place in front of Israel’s Consulate General in Istanbul against the attacks of the Israeli forces in Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. The protest was organized by the Anatolian Youth Association. Protest were held in other Turkish cities as well, reported the Turkish Radio and Television.

Greece opens for tourists


Greece open for tourists on May 14. This country’s authorities have eased the anti-epidemic measures as well. The nighttime curfew was pushed back, from 00.30 am until 05.00 am. Travel between regions in Greece is permitted as of May 14, 2021. The use of SMS system to report movements will no longer be required. In continental Greece, self-tests are recommended, but not required before travelling. Travelers going to Greek islands (except for Lefkada, Salamina and Evia) will have to present either a negative PCR tests taken within 72 hours of travel, a negative rapid test for Covid-19 taken within 24 hours prior to travel, or a vaccination certificate showing completion of vaccination at least 14 days prior to travel

Belgrade and Athens sign agreement to abolish roaming charges


Serbia and Greece are to sign a contract to abolish roaming charges, announced Serbia’s Premier Ana Brnabić during the Delphi Economic Forum. Next week Serbia’s Minister of Trade, Tourism and Telecommunication Tatjana Matić is to depart to Athens to sign the agreement, which will enter into force immediately.

Compiled by: Miglena Ivanova

English version: Kostadin Atanasov

Photos: EPA/BGNES

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