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Balkan Developments

Athens ratifies a military aid agreement with the United States

Days before Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis visited Washington, the Greek parliament ratified an extension of the bilateral military aid agreement between Greece and the United States instead of the usual one for five years. The agreement provides for the use of four military bases on Greek territory by the US military, BNR correspondent Katya Peeva reported from Greece.

Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias expressed hope for a larger US military presence in the Greek region of Thrace. Athens expects to limit Turkey's provocations in the region. In parliament, Mitsotakis said the agreement was a vote of confidence in Greece, which is becoming an energy hub for the region following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

In the United States, the prime minister is expected to discuss with President Joe Biden the war in Ukraine, the energy crisis and tensions in the Mediterranean, Reuters reported. The cooperation agreement between Greece and the United States, first signed in 1990, allows US troops to train in Greece.

The accession of the Western Balkans - a geopolitical task of the EU

On May 19, European Council President Charles Michel will embark on a tour of the Western Balkans, the European institution announced. As part of his three-day tour, Michel will visit Serbia, Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Serbian news agency Tanjug reported. Earlier this week, during a visit to Brussels, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said he looked forward to a visit by EU officials to discuss Serbia's progress towards European integration.

Also this week, Austria's Federal Minister for European and International Affairs, Alexander Schallenberg, visited North Macedonia. He said that the solution to the problem with the negotiations of the Republic of North Macedonia for membership with the EU is approaching, BTA reported.

According to Schallenberg, the opening of talks with North Macedonia and Albania is "an EU geopolitical task and enlargement has never been so important", but "there are some small things that need to be resolved between Sofia and Skopje". "Both governments already have the pieces of the puzzle. Now is the time to get consent," Schallenberg said in Skopje, where he arrived after talks in Sofia.

Kosovo has launched a procedure for membership in the Council of Europe

The Kosovo government has applied for membership in the Council of Europe, BGNES reported. The Council of Europe has 46 member states, and the votes of two-thirds of them are needed to accept new members. Pristina's hopes for membership have risen since Russia's exclusion from the CoE, the country's media reported.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said in Brussels that submitting an application for Kosovo's membership in the CoE would be a violation of agreements between the two countries, which were signed with international mediation, and stressed that if that happened, a "serious response" would follow and there will be "consequences".

Every second Romanian citizens thinks about emigration

Since the start of the war in Ukraine, every second Romanian has thought of emigrating, with Germany, France and Great Britain being the most desirable job search destinations. This shows a poll on an employment platform, quoted by Radio Romania.

As the main reasons 38% indicate the desire to change the environment and the country, 24% - personal and family safety, 21% - access to higher income, 14% - professional development, 4% - desire to work in a safer a region where the impact of the war is not felt.

Debates to legalize euthanasia have begun in Cyprus

60% of Cypriots agree with the legalization of euthanasia. This is releaved in the results of the first survey of public attitudes on this sensitive issue, presented to parliament. It is part of the ongoing public debate on the need for legislative changes in this direction, reports BNR correspondent in Cyprus Branislava Bobanac.

The study by the National Bioethics Committee of Cyprus covers 750 people over the age of 18, an equal number of men and women. It was held between December 2021 and March 2022. MEPs plan to draft amendments to the Penal Code following extensive social dialogue and consultations with medics, in co-operation with universities in Cyprus and the Cyprus Bar Association. The Holy Synod in Nicosia opposes this idea, as euthanasia is morally unacceptable to the church.

Compiled by Miglena Ivanova

Edited by Elena Karkalanova

English version Rositsa Petkova

Photos: EPA/BGNES, archive

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