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Balkan Developments

Probe into Mt Athos monksanti-vax propaganda

The Thessaloniki Prosecutor's Office is investigating monks in Mount Athos for anti Covid-19 vaccination propaganda, BNR’s correspondent in Greece Katya Peeva reports. They preached that "the coronavirus is the common flu and vaccination is a sin."

Due to the strong influence of the church in the northern part of the country, the percentage of vaccinated people is much lower, authorities said. This contributes to a rise in coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths, according to the official figures.

At least 40 monks out of a total of 1,800 on Mount Athos have died from the coronavirus. About 1,000 have fallen ill and only 500 have been vaccinated, according to the Greek newspaper Ta Nea. There are 400 monks in Mount Athos from Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria and Russia who flatly refuse to be vaccinated.

In Romania, more than 2 million electricity and gas bills have been revised

Romania’s Prime Minister Nicolae Ciuca asked the energy companies to recalculate all electricity and gas bills, BTA reports.

“I saw low-income families, institutions, religious organizations and social centers with really high bills. I insist that these issues be resolved so that the victimized parties receive new bills for November, December and January and the mistakes be corrected," said the Prime Minister at a meeting with energy companies.

An inspection by the authorities found over 2 million incorrect invoices. The energy companies were fined for the irregularities. As of February 1, restrictions on energy prices of end household and industrial consumers in the country will be introduced. The state budget will subsidize price differences by 600m euros.

Moldova introduces state of emergency over energy crisis

Moldova’s parliament on Thursday voted a 60-days state of emergency in the energy sector, after Russia’s Gazprom cut the deliveries to the country over unpaid debts. Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Spinu said the country was able to pay $38 million of the $63 million debt.

The imposition of a state of emergency extends the cabinet’s powers to manage the energy sector, including using budget funds to pay for gas.

Energy importer Moldovagaz said it had paid its January gas bills to Gazprom. Moldova and Gazprom have a 5-year contract from November 1, 2021, under which payments for the volumes delivered are made in advance by the 20th of each month.

Croatia amidst worst demographic crisis since 1948

Croatia's State Statistical Institute has released the first census data. Croatia’s population has decreased by 396,360 or more than 9.2% over the last decade. In 2011 г. the country’s population was 4,284,889 compared to 3,888,529 in 2021. This is the lowest population numbers in Croatia since the population census of 1948.

The economic crisis, the difficulty in finding a job and the lack of opportunity have forced many young people to leave the country, the Jutarnji List writes.

On the other hand there are increasing numbers of immigrants in Croatia, especially from the other former Yugoslavian countries. The migrants are drawn by the shortage of labor, especially in construction and tourism,“said demographer Ivan Chipin.

Turkey wants to mediate between Russia and Ukraine for a peaceful solution

Turkey is in favor of a peaceful settlement of the Russia-Ukraine dispute, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Thursday, referring to the ongoing tension between Russia and Ukraine.

"We do not consider the escalation of tensions between Russia and Ukraine to be right. As a country that has good relations with both countries, we are saddened by the atmosphere of war in the region," the Turkish leader told a news conference in Ankara.

“Turkey wants peace to prevail and hopes no other negative developments occur in the region,” the Turkish president added. He stated further that he expected to organize a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky in the near future. Erdogan confirmed that his pre-announced visit to Ukraine will take place in early February, the Anadolu Agency reported.

Serbia Votes ‘Yes’ to Judiciary Constitution Changes

Serbian citizens voted to change the country’s constitution and accept a judicial reform package. Over 60 per cent of the voters said “Yes” to the proposals in the referendum that took place on January 16th. According to Serbian president Aleksandar Vucic around 30 per cent of voters went to the polls.

The changes envision that the judges and prosecutors will no longer be elected by the Parliament, but by an 11-member High Judicial Council. The Minister of Justice, the President of the Supreme Court of Cassation and the Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Justice will no longer participate in the election of judges. There will no longer be a three-year probationary period for magistrates.

Compiled by: Ivo Ivanov

English version: Elizabeth Radkova

Photos: Pixabay, EPA/BGNES

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