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Balkan Developments

“Mini Schengen” Western Balkans initiative to be renamed

After a video call with the prime ministers of North Macedonia and Albania Zoran Zaev and Edi Rama, Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic announced that three agreements would be signed at the forthcoming economic forum on regional cooperation in Skopje on 28 and 29 July. Under one of these agreements the “Mini Schengen” initiative will be renamed, blic.rs writes.

Special “fast lanes” will be constructed at the border check points between the three countries for citizens from the region. The third agreement is for mutual support in the event of fires, floods and other natural calamities, President Vucic said.Joint phytosanitary inspections along the borders are also planned.

“We shall try to reach agreement on other issues as well, we shall show that we can go even further,” Aleksandar Vucic stated.

North Macedonia ready to part ways with Albania on way to EU

Macedonian PM Zoran Zaev stated, in an interview for Deutsche Welle that he hopes the dispute with Bulgaria will be resolved with the coming of a new government in Sofia. If that does not happen then he wishes Albania luck in continuing along the way to Europe by itself.

The disappointment, the trauma among the public is very great after North Macedonia’s way to Europe was blocked, but the country is not going to look for an alternative, Zoran Zaev stated. “You know that there are many other interests here, in Southeastern Europe and the Balkans, from Russia, from China, from the rest of the world. But they are not offering democratic values, they are not offering European values,” Zaev stated.

He added that he believes the census in the country will be successfully over by September and that the results will not affect the rights exercised by the ethnic groups in North Macedonia.

47 years later Cyprus remains divided

The international community has rejected the opening up of the area Varosha in the occupied town of Famagusta in Northern Cyprus, announced by Turkish President Recep Erdogan. Nicosia reacted angrily and sought support against the new encroachment. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken issued the following statement:

“The United States condemns the announcement by Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan today regarding the transfer of parts of Varosha to Turkish Cypriot control. This move is clearly inconsistent with UN Security Council Resolutions 550 and 789, which explicitly call for Varosha to be administered by the United Nations.”

EU high Representative Josep Borrel also issued a statement: “…we deplore today’s actions regarding the opening of the fenced off area of Varosha and statements contradicting the UN principles for a settlement of the Cyprus question.”

On the occasion of the 47th anniversary since the division of Cyprus, Recep Erdogan paid a visit to the Turkish occupation zone. For the first time Erdogan’s actions are being boycotted by Turkish Cypriot politicians such as former presidents Mustafa Akinci and Mehmet Ali Talat who are not happy with Ankara’s interference in the domestic affairs of the Turkish Cypriots, BNR’s correspondent in Cyprus Branislava Bobanats reports.

EU fails to bring Serbia and Kosovo any closer

Serbia and Kosovo held negotiations in Brussels, and once again with no result. “I proposed a 6-point peace declaration but it was rejected without being read,” said Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti said. Pristina enumerated another 11 points on which Belgrade is blocking Kosovo but they too went unheard, writes on its part Koha Ditore newspaper. Kosovo categorically opposes Serbia’s view of the “Serbian world”, which it regards as a euphemism for a “Great Serbia.”

“It was not possible to negotiate anything with Kurti. More than ever I am concerned for the safety of the Serbs in Kosovo,” Aleksandar Vucic said after the meeting which was tumultuous and shorter than planned, Serbian state TV RTS reported. President Vucic was outraged that according to the Kosovo Albanians there were three Serbian genocides against them – after the Berlin Congress – 1878, after the Balkan Wars – 1913, and in 1999.

Greece starts using aerostats for border surveillance

Greece has taken the first steps towards the implementation of the Frontex plan to use two aerostats, taken on lease by the EU for border surveillance. The first of them is already at Alexandroupoli Airport in Northeastern Greece. The second aerostat is to be deployed at the military base near Lemnos island at the beginning of August.

The two air vessels are equipped with modern cameras with a range of over 16 kms., and will monitor movement in the sea but also along the Greece-Turkey land border, BGNES reports.

Croatia wants Nikola Tesla on its eurocents

Croatia’s President Andrej Plenkovic announced that physicist Nikola Tesla is to be on the 50, 20 and 10 eurocent coins when Croatia becomes a member of the Eurozone in 2023. According to the Croatian National Bank the other motifs on the Croatian eurocent coins will be a chess board, a map of the country and the Glagolitic alphabet, state TV HRT reported. 

The National Bank of Serbia described the use of Tesla’s profile as “cultural appropriation of the heritage of the Serbian people”. The controversy is to be placed before the Council of the EU because it is the authority that ultimately approves the design of the eurocent coins, the bankers from Belgrade say, as quoted by Tanjug news agency.

Compiled by: Ivo Ivanov

Photos: EPA/BGNES, EU, frontex.europa.eu

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