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Balkan Developments

Croatia included in the U.S. Visa Waiver Program

As of September 28, 2021, Croatia has completed all necessary bilateral security agreements and has met the required B1/B2 visa refusal rate, which means Croatian citizens are able to travel to the United States for business and tourism in most cases without a visa. The Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) will now allow citizens and nationals of Croatia to apply to travel to the United States for up to 90 days without obtaining a visa. The Department of Homeland Security recommends travelers submit their travel authorization applications as early as possible and at least 72 hours prior to travel. Visa-free travelers must have passports with embedded computer chips and must obtain an ESTA, which currently costs USD 14 and is valid for up to two years for multiple trips to the United States.

Greece reports between 3,000 and 4,000 Covid-19 cases per day

The number of new Covid-19 cases in Greece has been increasing steadily. Between 3,000 and 4,000 people are now diagnosed with Covid-19 on a daily basis. The epidemic situation in the northern parts of the country, where the number of vaccinated people is below the country average, is complicated. Medics called on the Greek cabinet to introduce mandatory vaccination. Currently, vaccination is mandatory for doctors and medical specialists only. Most frontline doctors contend that the vaccinated people must undergo coronavirus tests more frequently. An average of 5,000 new Covid-19 cases are expected in this country in the coming days, which would put pressure on the Greek health system, BGNES reports.

Slovenia introduces stricter anti-epidemic measures

Slovenia’ cabinet has introduced stricter anti-epidemic measures, because of the sharp deterioration of the anti-epidemic situation in this country. The new measures will take effect on November 1. The authorities do not rule out the possibility to introduce a lockdown for unvaccinated, if the number of Covid-19 hospitalizations continues to increase. Moreover, students may switch over to distance learning, Radiotelevizija Slovenja reports. People employed at the public administration are to undergo Covid-19 tests more frequently. Vaccinated people must wear masks when they are in a direct contact with other people. Owners of restaurants and other catering establishments must ask visitors to present Covid-19 Green Certificates.

Pace of vaccination doubles in Romania

The pace of vaccination has more than doubled in Romania. The number of vaccinations has increased from 70,000 to 150,000 per day. This country has the second-lowest vaccination rate in the European Union after Bulgaria with just 37% of adults now fully vaccinated, Euronews reports. Meanwhile, Romania’s Senate rejected a draft bill requiring people employed at the public administration, the large private companies and the healthcare workers to hold a Covid-19 health pass.

Joe Biden and Recep Erdogan to discuss USA-Turkey relations

If the US does not resolve the issue about the F-35s, Turkey will consider other options, including purchasing Russian-made Su-35 or Su-57, Turkey’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Mevlut Cavisoglu said, quoted by Anadolu Agency. The USA must deliver the F-35 fighter jets that Turkey paid for or return the USD 1.4 billion sum, Minister Cavisoglu added. In 2019, Donald Trump’s administration removed Turkey from the F-35 program, because Ankara decided to purchase Russian S-400 air defense systems. The dispute over the supply of the F-35 fighter aircraft will be subject to discussions on October 31, during the Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland. Presidents Joe Biden and Recep Erdogan will take part at the COP 26 UN Climate Chance Conference.

Compiled by: Ivo Ivanov

English version: Kostadin Atanasov

Photos: EPA/BGNES, library

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