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Balkan Developments

"Mini Schengen" renamed "Open Balkan", Bulgaria is also invited

Open Balkan will be the new name of the regional initiative informally called Mini-Schengen, Zoom.mk reports. This was announced at the Regional Economic Forum in Skopje, with the participation of Prime Minister of North Macedonia Zoran Zaev, Prime Minister of Albania Edi Rama and Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić. According to the participants, "Open Balkans" marks the beginning of a new era of co-operation in the region, which would show that countries in this part of Europe are capable of making their own decisions. Zaev said Bulgaria is also welcome to join, BGNES has reported.

Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti dismissed the project as unpromising and called on the region to conclude a trade agreement with the EU instead.

The borders between Serbia, North Macedonia and Albania are expected to open for free movement of people and goods on January 1, 2023.

Cyprus joins EuroAsia Interconnector with 100 million euros from the EU

Cyprus will join the EuroAsia Interconnector thanks to a 100-million euro grant from the EU, BNR correspondent Branislava Bobanac has reported. The decision is of great importance to Cyprus because the project will end energy isolation by connecting the country to Europe's continental power grid, according to the consortium building the large-scale facility. The cross-border interconnection is 1208 km long and connects the electrical energy systems of Israel, Cyprus and Greece.

Nicosia has included the link in its national recovery and sustainability plan among projects aimed at achieving climate neutrality and energy efficiency.

Fires rage in Turkey

More than 180 people have been injured in forest fires in southern Turkey, Minister of Agriculture Bekir Pakdemirli said. The fire broke out on Wednesday near the resort town of Manavgat in the province of Antalya. According to the administration of Antalya, this is the strongest fire the province has faced, BGNES writes. There have been reports about victims of the fires. On Thursday, fires broke out in other provinces, too. The strong wind and high temperatures made the flames quickly cover a large area. Guests were evacuated from hotels in the Marmaris resort last night, but no injuries were reported, BNT informed. Fire is also raging in Bodrum but authorities say the situation is under control. Tourist excursions in the affected areas have been suspended until the situation normalized.

Protests against mandatory vaccination in Greece

A series of protests took place in Greece against the mandatory vaccination of medics and against restrictive measures. Thousands of protesters in Athens and Thessaloniki called for the resignation of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis. The presence of clergy was also noticed at the protests, although the Holy Synod supported the vaccination against coronavirus, BNR correspondent Katya Peeva reported from Greece.

Croatia completes Pelješac Bridge

In Croatia, the construction of the bridge from the mainland to the Pelješac Peninsula, southern Dalmatia, where the popular tourist destination of Dubrovnik is located, has been completed, BNT reported. The 2.4 km long bridge rises to a height of 55 meters and has two lanes for cars in each direction. It is expected to open in June 2022, for the summer tourist season. The bridge, built by the China Road and Bridge Corporation, is Croatia's largest infrastructure project, worth 550 million euros as 357 of them come from European funds. The purpose of the facility is to bypass the land border with Bosnia and Herzegovina, which has a narrow 20-kilometer exit to the sea near the town of Neum.

Compiled by: Miglena Ivanova

English: Alexander Markov

Photos: Facebook: Zoran Zaev, euroasia-interconnector.com, IHA, EPA/BGNES, croatiaweek.com

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