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Balkan Developments

North Macedonia PM Zoran Zaev announces his resignation

At the beginning of the week, after his party lost the local election runoff in a number of towns, including in the capital city Skopje, Zoran Zaev stated that he was stepping down as Prime Minister of North Macedonia and as leader of the Social Democratic Union. The parties from the ruling coalition urged him to reconsider his decision, which they say was emotional and rash. According to Balkans expert Raina Asenova from the Bulgarian news agency BTA, if Zaev does tender his resignation, one of the possibilities is for the ruling majority to nominate another candidate for prime minister – most probably the Deputy Prime Minister for European Affairs Nikola Dimitrov who is well known for his anti-Bulgarian rhetoric. If that happens then “we are in for some quite difficult times”, Raina Asenova says in an interview for the BNR’s Hristo Botev channel.

Open Balkan: North Macedonia is a concrete example of the European Union's failure

The latest meeting of the Open Balkan initiative took place in Belgrade. At the end of the forum, the President of Serbia Aleksandar Vucic, the Prime Minister of Albania Edi Rama and the Deputy Prime Minister of North Macedonia Nikola Dimitrov issued a joint statement sharply criticizing the EU over the lack of any practical progress in the region’s European integration, calling on the European Union to unblock the impasse of the region's integration processes. “North Macedonia is a concrete example of the European Union's failure to keep its promises. Her government made great efforts to meet the conditions of Brussels, but only found itself isolated and left to face the consequences of EU decisions. The weakening perspective of European integration threatens to leave us more unintegrated than ever. This is a feeling that is shared throughout the region,” the statement reads.

Second attempt to form a government in Romania falls through

The political crisis in Romania is deepening against the backdrop of the deepening Covid-19 crisis. Nicolae Ciuca, who was nominated for Prime Minister admitted that he is unable to form a cabinet.

Romania has been in the throes of a political crisis since the beginning of October when liberal PM Florin Citu lost a vote of no confidence in parliament. The no-confidence vote came about after a coalition partner left Citu’s government accusing him of acting as a dictator. After that President Klaus Iohannis nominated former European Commissioner for Agriculture Dacian Ciolos, but he failed to obtain the necessary majority in parliament. The same thing happened with the next presidential nomination - minister of defence Nicolae Ciuca, an army general who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Israeli electronic surveillance system to monitor Green Line in Cyprus

Cyprus has signed an agreement with the Israeli military for an electronic surveillance system to monitor activity along the UN-patrolled Green Line running across the divided island.

“It is an electronic surveillance system that will provide us with images 24 hours a day,” Christos Pieris spokesperson for the Cypriot Defence Ministry told the Cyprus News Agency.

The 180-kilometre long Green Line has divided the Mediterranean island from East to West since 1974, into the Republic of Cyprus, and the self-proclaimed Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, recognized only by Ankara.

The surveillance system will monitor activities such as smuggling and illegal migration, but will also be used by military intelligence, officials say. The system, worth 27.5 million euro, is expected to be built within three years.

Tighter anti-epidemic measures in place in Greece

Greece is once again tightening the anti-epidemic measures in the country, as well as the control of their observance. As of Saturday only green certificate holders will be allowed entry into public spaces. The unvaccinated will have to show negative tests everywhere, with the exceptional of grocery stores, pharmacies and churches, BNR’s correspondent in Greece Katya Peeva reports. Owners of commercial premises are demanding assistance so as not to go bankrupt. Eating and drinking establishments are expecting their turnover to plummet because 40% of people in Greece are unvaccinated. 8,000 police officers will be conducting round-the-clock inspections and fining offenders.

Compiled by Miglena Ivanova


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