THE UNBIASED OBSERVERS, Issue 14


From 1 September 2011 this newsletter service is subscription only. See Balkan News Service for details.


Monday, 25 July 2011

 

The Norwegian national flag flew at half-mast in honor of the victims of the 22 July deadly attacks that left many people injured and killed at least other 93. Norwegians left flowers and lit candles in memoriam of those who died in the meaningless brutal attacks in Oslo and Utoeya island.

The deadly attacks in Norway, the country’s worst since WWII, are condemned by the people around the world.

All of us have to remember what happened in Norway and do our best to prevent the death of innocent people in a violent and strongly dehumanized world.

 

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The purpose of the newsletter is to provide the latest news in the Balkans region in an objective, balanced and multiple-perspective way. All sources are quoted for the sake of convenience of the readers. By reading the newsletter you’ll learn in less than half an hour all regional top-headlines in politics and economy.

Take some time while drinking your morning tea or coffee and read the myriad of Balkan news. The Unbiased Observers saves you the time that you will spend delving into the topics later during the day.

We are your everyday personal and accessible news provider and we are ready to do additional research in order to meet your interest demands and answer your questions.

Read us every day, share some brief moments in the morning with us.

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Coverage: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, Turkey

Timing: 6:30 am GMT every day Mon to Fri

Provision: e-mail service

Language: English

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Today’s Topics:

Politics and others:

  • Cyprus faces a separation according to a Turkish academic who has worked long on a unity scenario; “EU is not a priority for Turkey any longer….at any cost,” Mensur Akgün;
  • Three military killed in an ambush. The Turkish government will assign police special forces to fight terror;
  • Turkey replaces its diplomat number one in Vienna;
  • Hadzic faces the UN tribunal in Hague;
  • More on the story of Bulgarian medics years after

Economy:

  • The Bundesbank – the strongest opponents of a default scenario for Greece;
  • Cyprus agrees on an austerity package aiming at resolving the economic crisis
  • Energy help for Greek Cyprus will continue;
  • Bulgaria responds with a counter-suit to Russia’s move over Belene Nuclear Power Plant

 

 

BALKANS – POLITICS & OTHER

Ankara (Turkey)

Cyprus faces a separation according to a Turkish academic who has worked long on a unity scenario; “EU is not a priority for Turkey any longer….at any cost,” Mensur Akgün.

Cyprus is heading toward separation as chances dim for a solution based on reunification, according to academic Mensur Akgün, who has worked for nearly a decade with a nongovernmental organization that is trying to bridge the gap on the divided island. But separation will be a costly solution, he told the Hürriyet Daily News in a recent interview.

Asked about the Turkey-EU relations’ freeze, Akgün says “At the end of the day, this was going to happen anyway. The EU is not a priority for Turkey any longer. This will give the message that Turkey wants membership, but not at any cost. Freezing relations with the EU for six months does not have a high cost for Turkey, since in the absence of a solution, there won’t be any negotiation in policy areas.”

Diyakbakir (Turkey)

Three military killed in an ambush. The Turkish government will assign police special forces to fight terror

Three Turkish soldiers were killed on 24 July in an ambush by Kurdish separatist rebels in southeast Turkey, local security sources told AFP.They were ambushed in a country area near the town of Omerli in Mardin province. Clashes between security forces and militants of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) have surged since June 12 elections.

The soldiers were returning to their garrison from a dinner invitation when alleged members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, opened fire on them, Hurryiet Daily informed.Non-commissioned officers Erhan Gül, Sadık Güllü and specialist sergeant Ali Öztürk died at the scene of the attack.

On July 16, thirteen soldiers were killed in an ambush with PKK rebels in Diyarbakir province, the worst loss of life for the army since October 2008. The PKK, listed as a terrorist group by Turkey and much of the international community, took up arms in 1984, sparking a conflict that has claimed some 45,000 lives.

On 23 July, a rally was staged in Istanbul calling the government for urgent solution of the Kurdish problem.

“The government has created a new structure for the fight against terror that involves action from police forces as well as the military,” the Turkish prime minister is cited by Hurriyet.

The government is working on a plan that tasks police officers with domestic security in the fight against terror, Erdoğan said, adding that “a step will be taken depending on the sensitivity of the region.” “The government does not carry out operations for pleasure. If the terrorist organization puts down their weapons, terror will be minimized, because security forces do not carry out operations unless they receive intelligence,” he said.

Ankara (Turkey)

Turkey replaces its diplomat number one in Vienna

Turkey has replaced its ambassador to Vienna who criticized Austria’s stigmatization of Turkish immigrants. Kadri Ecvet Tezcan will be replaced in September by Ayse Sezgin, a former ambassador to Slovenia who is currently in charge of European affairs at the Turkish foreign ministry, a source requesting anonymity told AFP.

Several Austrian politicians  demanded Tezcan to be recalled shortly after the diplomatic spat occurred. Tezcan stirred up diplomatic tensions last November with his blunt critique of Austria’s approach to integration and national attitudes towards Turkish immigrants.
“When Turks apply for housing in Vienna, they’re always sent to the same neighbourhood. And yet, at the same time, they’re accused of creating ghettos,” he said in an interview with the newspaper Die Presse.

Belgrade, (Serbia)

Hadzic faces the UN tribunal in Hague

A plane carrying Hadzic, Serbia’s last remaining war crimes fugitive, landed at Rotterdam Airport in the Netherlands on 22 July, Xinhua reported. Hadzic was on his way to face war crime charges before UN tribunal in The Hague.After seven years on the run, Hadzic was arrested in the mountain region of Fruska Gora near Novi Sad.

Hadzic has been the last remaining fugitive sought by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). He was charged by ICTY in 2004, with 14 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Sofia (Bulgaria)

More on the story of Bulgarian medics years after

Four years after the Bulgarian medics in Libya were released, the bivol.bg site publishes wikileaked documents under the headline “The Deal on the Medics in Libya; US recommend discrete diplomacy; The Emir of Qatar paid for the release” (http://www.bivol.bg/wlmedics.html)

BALKANS ECONOMY

Economy

Athens (Greece)

The Bundesbank – the strongest opponents of a default scenario for Greece

“By transferring sizeable additional risks to aid-granting countries and their taxpayers, the euro area made a large step toward a collectivization of risks in case of unsolid public finances and economic mistakes,” Weidmann said in an e-mailed statement. “That’s weakening the foundations of a monetary union founded on fiscal self-responsibility. In the future, it will be even more difficult to maintain incentives for solid fiscal policies,” says Bundesbank President Jens Weidmann in connection with Greece’s second bailout package. Greece’s Ekathimerini cites his comment that the second bailout may weaken incentives for governments to implement solid fiscal policies.

At the 21 July summit the European leaders agreed on a 159 billion-euro ($228 billion) plan to stem Greece’s debt crisis and contain a spillover into larger countries such as Spain and Italy late on July 21. The package empowers the region’s 440-billion euro rescue fund to buy debt of distressed euro nations, aid troubled banks and offer credit-lines to repel speculators. Financial institutions will contribute 50 billion Euro to the proposal.

European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet indicated late July 21 that European leaders will guarantee Greek bonds in money market operations should a bailout agreement trigger a default, telling reporters after a summit in Brussels that he won’t “prejudge” whether Greek securities will be classified as being in default.

Nicosia (Cyprus)

Cyprus agrees on an austerity package aiming at resolving the economic crisis

On 22 July the Cyprus government and parliamentary parties reached an accord on an austerity package for resolving an economic crisis in the aftermath of a destructive blast on July 11, Xinhua reported. Many of the measures in the package had been agreed upon before the huge blast of military explosives and munitions in a naval base in the south of the island, which killed 13 people and wrecked a electricity producing station, cutting the islands power capacity by 53 percent.

However, the destruction to the economy prompted the government and the parties to introduce additional measures that have not been announced yet.

“The measures will be announced within the next few days after the whole package has been reshaped,” government official Stefanos Stefanou said after a meeting of President Dimitris Christofias with party leaders.

Stefanou said that the package included all the measures decided upon before the blast and additional measures put forward by the parties.

Opposition parties had criticized the government that its original austerity package did not go far enough and Central Bank Governor Athanasios Orphanides warned earlier this week that Cyprus could be forced to apply for a European Union (EU) bailout program but for further economic measures. The original package included levies on employees of the wider public sector of 70 million euros over the next two years, introduction of contributions by public servants towards their pensions, a reduction in entry salary scales for public employees, among others. Cyprus had suffered repeated downgrading of its economy recently because of the exposure of its bank system to the Greek debt crisis.

Nicosia (Cyprus) Energy help for Greek Cyprus will continue

Turkish Cyprus will continue providing electricity to Greek Cyprus, Turkey’s Energy Minister Taner Yıldız told Anatolia news agency.

The northern part of Cyprus has sent electricity to the south since a deadly munitions blast July 11 knocked out a key power station, said Turkish Energy and Natural Resources Minister Taner Yıldız. The real solution to the problem, according to Yıldız, is a master plan that encompasses the entire island.

Sofia (Bulgaria)

Bulgaria responds with a counter-suit to Russia’s move over Belene Nuclear Plant

Bulgaria’s Ministry of Economy, Energy, and Tourism informed that it would respond to Russia’s Atomstroyexport, a Rosatom subsidiary, with a counter lawsuit over the construction of the Belene nuclear power plant.  On 23 July Atomstroyexport, the Russian contractor, selected to build the second 2000-MW Belene Bulgarian power plant, confirmed it had filed a lawsuit for EUR 58 M against Bulgaria’s National Electric Company (NEK) at the International Court of Arbitration in Paris. The grounds for the lawsuit are NEK’s failure to pay on time for already completed works. The lawsuit is related to a dispute over equipment delivery payments, and is not directly linked with the final decision on the fate of the Belene project,  Bulgaria’s Novinite.com reports.

Bulgaria’s NEK has expressed its surprise about Atomstroyexport’s lawsuit and has confirmed that it will launch a counter lawsuit against Atomstroyexport over the delivery of equipment worth EUR 61M. NEK claims that it has repeatedly asked Atomstroyexport for the payments that it owes under a contract to buy back the old equipment at the Belene NPP construction site (a Skoda reactor). NEK explained that the delayed payments by Atomstroyexport is the reason it terminated its due payments to the Russian company.

Atomstroyexport claims that it has completed tasks on the Belene project on credit, on Bulgaria’s request, and regardless of its dispute with the Bulgarian government over the price of the NPP, and the need to sign a final construction contract.

In the event that the talks between NEK and Atomstroyexport for Belene fail, the Russian state company will most likely file a EUR 1B lawsuit against Bulgaria but such a development would not occur before October 2011, if it does at all, because the two governments have negotiated a 3-month extension on the final decision that Bulgaria has to make. On July 1, NEK and Atomstroyexport signed an annex extending by 3 months their contract for the construction of the Belene NPP, the new “Annex No. 13” to the 2006 contract. The newly-signed document effectively provides the two parties with a deadline until September 30, 2011, to answers to questions related with to the technical project for the Belene NPP, the market analysis by the project consultant HSBC, and further progress on the contract for construction and supplies, which is to be made more flexible to meet requirements by potential international investors. However, it does not contain a commitment to a certain deadline for reaching a final construction deal. The greatest issue over which Bulgaria and Russia have been haggling for the past two years under the Borisov Cabinet has been the price of the project, with Russia insisting it should be no less than EUR 6.3 B, while Bulgaria is demanding a price of no more than EUR 5 B.

(Mariela Zamfirova, MBA; 25 July 2011)

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About Johann Brandstätter

Photojournalist and documentary photographer based in Bulgaria, working mainly in the Balkans and the Middle East. Conflicts & crises, social and environmental issues, defense & military, travel, transportation.
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