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Balkan developments

In a year, Turkey will build 325,000 homes for those affected by the earthquakes

More than 49,000 people died in the earthquakes in South-Eastern Turkey, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced at the extraordinary summit of the Organization of Turkic States in Ankara.

"After February 6, 11 provinces in the southeastern part of our country were affected by a disaster that has no analogue in the world in terms of its power and devastation. About 14 million of our citizens were directly affected by the earthquakes, more than 49,000 people died, more than 115,000 were injured," the president said.

Earlier, Erdogan visited the most affected Hatay province and promised that over 240,000 houses in the affected cities and 75,000 in the villages would be built there in one year, Anadolu Agency reported.

So far, 426,000 tents have been pitched and 100,000 housing containers will be placed in another month, Erdogan said.‎

Before the presidential elections, Montenegrin President dissolves parliament

The President of Montenegro, Milo Đukanović, dissolved the parliament in Podgorica by decree, BTA reported. This happened after the deadline for the country's 27th parliament to form a government headed by Miodrag Lekic expired on March 16. He was given the mandate after changes to the law on the powers of the president and the parliament took over the right to nominate a candidate for prime minister.

On March 12, Lekić informed the leaders of the parliamentary parties that he did not have the necessary majority to form a new government, because he lacked 3 votes of the deputies from the Civic Movement of the current acting Prime Minister, Dritan Abazović.

 The elections for a new parliament will be at the end of May or the beginning of June. Presidential elections will be held in Montenegro on March 19.‎

EU Court, Ombudsman asked to decide on the blockade of Bulgaria and Romania in Schengen

Romanian MEP from the Renew Europe group, Vlad Gheorghe, has asked the Court of Justice of the EU and the European Ombudsman to rule on whether Romanians and Bulgarians, who remain outside the European Schengen area of free movement, are discriminated against, reports AGERPRES.

"I have asked the two institutions to give their opinion on this case, taking into account the provisions of Article 2 and Article 4, paragraph 3 of the EU Treaty, as well as Articles 20 and 21 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU. In my requests, I reminded the Court of the EU and the Ombudsman that both the European Parliament and the European Commission have repeatedly come out with a decision that Romania and Bulgaria are ready to join Schengen, Vlad Gheorghe wrote on Facebook.‎

Skopje calls on the Ecumenical Patriarch to recognize the Ohrid Archbishopric

In Istanbul, Macedonian President Stevo Pendarovski met with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I.

"As a state and Church, we expect the highest institutional body in Orthodoxy to give us the official document for church independence - Tomos of Autocephaly. The decisions of the Ecumenical Patriarchate recognize the right of our church to use the name Ohrid Archdiocese, which means 1000 years of church continuity. The full completion of the process of autocephaly is also of the highest national interest, because it opens the possibility for a new and spiritual growth of the Ohrid archdiocese, progress and reconciliation in the Macedonian society and state," announced Pendarovski's office, reports MIA.

According to the statute of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, it is the direct successor of the Ohrid Archbishopric.‎

Serbian cabinet ministers disagree over the imposition of anti-Russian sanctions

Serbian Economy Minister Rade Basta has called on the government to immediately impose sanctions on Russia. Serbia is "already paying a high price for not imposing sanctions" and "this has become unbearable".

According to Basta, Serbia is facing a new reality over time. "There is no end in sight to the conflict and it seems that reason has disappeared.... Serbia is facing enormous pressure due to the global upheavals," said the minister.

The chairman of the co-ruling Socialist Party and Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic commented that he firmly supported the opinion of the National Security Council, confirmed last year, that Serbia condemns the violation of the territorial integrity of Ukraine, but was not in favour of introducing sanctions against Russia, TANJUG reported.

Compiled by Ivo Ivanov

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