THE UNBIASED OBSERVERS, Issue 28


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


Thursday, 11 August 2011

Politics and others:

Albania:

  • The Pyramid of Tirana: a Generation Gap Dispute

Bosnia and Herzegovina:

  • FBiH Government “List of Projects under IPA Is Final”
  • Bosnian Farmers Unblock the Roads after a Promise for Incentives

Bulgaria:

Croatia:

  • Amnesty International Expresses Concerns over Croatian Government’s Assessment of Operation Storm’s Role
  • Vatican in a Property Dispute with Croatia

Cyprus:

  • Parties in Cyprus Angered by a UNSG Report; Criticism Focused on Report’s Omission of Turkish PM “Threatening Comments”

Greece:

  • Homelessness in Greece 25% Up

Kosovo:

  • Barricades near Leposavic Raised, Roadblocks in Zvecan, Zupce and Zubin Potok Remain; Russia calls on EU, NATO and UN to Prevent Violence in Kosovo

Macedonia:

  • James Pardew: The Ohrid Framework Agreement – Model for Settlement of Ethnic Conflicts
  • The International Court in Hague Postpones its Ruling on Macedonia vs Greece Case
  • Dnеvnik: 3,000 Submit Declarations that They Have Not Collaborated with the State Secret Services

Montenegro

  • Germany Foreign Minister Guido Westervelle’s Visit to Montenegro

Serbia

  • Serbian newspapers: “Germany will not Require Serbia to Recognize Kosovo’s Independence” and “Germany will Call on the Serbian Government to Give up N Kosovo”
  • Police Removed the Barricades of Striking Road Workers

Turkey

  • Syria’s President al-Assad Chilly Welcome of Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu;President Bashar al-Assad stressed that Syria will not be tolerant in pursuing the armed terrorist groups
  • Turkish Shop Owners Defend their Property in London

Economy:

Albania

  • Bank of Albania: Lending Criteria Tighten

Bulgaria

  • Bulgarian Financial Minister “Bulgarians Should Mind Their Own Business, There Is No Global Crisis”
  • Bulgaria’s Gas Consumption Grows 2% on Annual Basis
  • Bulgaria’s Supreme Court to Rule on Lukoil Case on 10 August

Croatia

  • Croatian Government Discusses Cushioning Scenarios re Swiss Currency Appreciation with Commercial Banks

Greece

  • Greece to Extend Bond Swap Maturities beyond 2020

Serbia

  • Serbian Government Holds Meeting over Global Crisis’ Impact on Serbia
  • 100,000 Construction Workers in Serbia may Lose their Jobs

Romania

  • Romania’s President Calls on the Government to Continue Public Spending Cuts; Inflation down to 4.85% in July

Cyprus

  • Cyprus’ New Government Proposed Austerity Package: EUR 22.5 M Savings in 2011

Turkey

  • Electricity Consumption Breaks a Record; Local Supplies Insufficient; There’ll be No Electricity Cuts

 

BALKANS – POLITICS & OTHER

Albania

The Pyramid of Tirana: a Generation Gap Dispute

Tirana, The so-called “Pyramid” that has recently become a widely discussed subject and even a reason of protest is the one-time role as a museum honouring the late Stalinist dictator Enver Hoxha. The generation that remembers the primary purpose for construction of the building stands firmly for its replacement.

“We cannot keep in place a building that holds the ghost of the dictator,” Democratic Party MP Enkelejd Alibeaj said. The initiative raised heated discussions, and thousands of citizens signed petitions asking authorities to stop any demolition.

“The pyramid is not the property of Enver Hoxha … All Albanians have worked for this pyramid, myself included,” Maks Velo, a well-known Albanian architect said, quoted by SETimes. Over the last 20 years, the pyramid has served a number of purposes — several commercial and book fairs are held there, and private national TV station Top Channel has offices and studios there.

Activists supporting the pyramid are young people, who do not remember it being used as a museum for Hoxha.

Mjaft movement activist Aldo Merkoci told SETimes that the pyramid has served as the only public place where citizens, especially the young, have cultivated interest in art, culture and music. “For the young people, destroying the pyramid means losing a very important public space.”

Bosnia and Herzegovina

FBiH Government “List of Projects under IPA Is Final”

Sarajevo, In respect of the latest developments on IPA funds for 2011, the position of the Government of FBiH has remained unchanged. According to a press-release of FBiH, IPA fundsare not instrument for redefining of inner-state relations but an opportunity to benefit from assistance on condition of observing the terms and conditions  under the agreements with EU, Fena reported.

FBiH Government states that the list of projects which Directorate for European Integrations forwarded to institutions of EU is final, and it is not possible to negotiate and look for compromise out of legal frames and signed international agreements. “Programming IPA for 2011 went in accordance with laws of this country and existing regulative, and agreement on pre-accession assistance signed between BiH and EU,” Government of FBiH says.

According to mentioned rules, planning of these projects is done by institutions of the state and lower levels of authority are also taking part in the process which was the case this year. All projects were approved by Council of Ministers of BiH and Directorate for European Integrations of BiH  and subsequently a final list of these projects was sent to European Commission.

As per Fena report, the statement implies that representatives of RS in structures in charge of pre-accession assistance have blocked implementation of significant number of these projects for several years, and in that way try to make distribution of this assistance exclusively inter-entity issue.

Projects disputed by RS are directly related to implementation of obligations which EU set for BiH through Stabilization and Association Agreement and European Partnership, and those are projects concerning employment, support to High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council, agriculture and Agency for statistics of BiH.

Bosnian Farmers Unblock the Roads after a Promise for Incentives

Sarajevo, Bosnian farmers have unblocked roads leading to border crossings with Croatia after reaching an agreement with their government over new subsidies.

The authorities of one of the two Bosnia and Herzegovina’s governing entities, the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, decided to secure additional production incentives for the local farmers after protests broke out on several of the country’s roads.

Traffic on roads leading to border crossings Doljani (near Metkovic), Kamensko (near Livno), Izacic (near Bihac) and Orasje was either fully suspended or had evolved with difficulty and delays during the protests that started on 8 August.

Bulgaria

Turkey’s PM on a September Visit to Bulgaria

Тurkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will pay an official visit to Bulgaria in September. He will have meetings with Bulgaria’s President Georgi Purvanov, Prime Minister Boyko Borissov and other officials. The Nabuco Project and bilateral relations between Bulgaria and Turkey will be the main topics of discussion. Nabuco Project is on transportation of Caspian natural gas to Europe via Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Austria.

Croatia

Amnesty International Expresses Concerns over Croatian Government’s Assessment of Operation Storm ’s Role

Zagreb, 10 August, Amnesty International expressed “great concern” over the honor Croatian Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor had recently given to two Croatian generals convicted of war crimes against Serbs and “glorification” of the Croatian military and police Operation Storm, Hina reported.

The Croatian government issued a release in response to a criticism Serbian President Boris Tadic made regarding a statement by Croatian Prime Minister Kosor in which she greeted the Hague indictees Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac. On 9 August, the office of Croatian Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor reiterated that the Operation Storm was a legitimate and righteous liberation offensive, which defeated the aggressor policy of Slobodan Milosevic. According to the press release of the Croatian government, Operation Storm not only liberated the occupied territories in Croatia, its victory over the tyrant also opened the way to democracy to our neighbors.

Vatican in a Property Dispute with Croatia

Zagreb, A lingering dispute between a Croatian diocese and the Benedictine religious order has prompted an unusual direct intervention by the Vatican, and caused a chill in diplomatic relations between Croatia and the Holy See, the Balkan Chronicle reports.

The dispute concerns the Benedictine monastery at Dajla, which was confiscated from the Benedictines by the Communist regime of what was then Yugoslavia. After the fall of the Communist government, the property was restored to the Diocese of Porec i Pula, Croatia.

Benedictine leaders in Italy asked for compensation for the property, and a Vatican-appointed commission backed their claim. But Bishop Ivan Milovan of Porec i Pula has refused to pay, saying that the payment would bankrupt the diocese. The issue also has created diplomatic tensions between the Vatican and Croatia.

Cyprus

Parties in Cyprus Angered by a UNSG Report; Criticism Focused on Report’s Omission of Turkish PM “Threatening Comments”

Nicosia, Parties slammed the UN draft report, in particular the absence of any reference to Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan’s comments last month. Former government coalition partners DIKO said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s report avoided any reference to Erdogan’s recent repeated “threatening statements” with which he has “essentially torpedoed the direct negotiations procedure,” Cyprus Mail reported.

Erdogan had said that Greek Cypriots should not expect to get occupied Morphou back nor any unilateral moves on the fenced off town of Varoshia, for which UN resolutions exist calling for its return.

“He (Ban) also omits the fact that Turkish proposals and the Turkish side’s overall behaviour at the negotiating table aim in a confederate solution with strong Turkish guarantees,” a DIKO statement said.

The party said it the report foresaw an international conference that would deal with the overall approach on all issues and essentially it would be a give and take.

DIKO said the Greek Cypriot side should avoid getting trapped in a suffocating procedure with a predetermined dangerous conclusion.

It urged President Demetris Christofias to decisively tackle both Turkey’s threats and methods and the UN’s dangerous procedural approaches.

Greece

Homelessness in Greece 25% Up

Athens, Homelessness in Athens has risen by 25 percent on last year, as the effects of the recession are felt, according to reports.

According to a report published on 10 August in Eleftherotypia daily, a new class of homeless has emerged, the neo-homeless, meaning people who have lost their house because of the lingering debt crisis.

Most of the neo-homeless are neither drug addicts nor mentally disturbed.

According to Klimaka, a nongovernmental organization offering support to the homeless and depressed, the number of homeless was estimated at 20,000 at the end of 2010.

Kosovo

Barricades near Leposavic Raised, Roadblocks in Zvecan, Zupce and Zubin Potok Remain; Russia calls on EU, NATO and UN to Prevent Violence in Kosovo

Pristina, The barricades put up near Leposavic (N Kosovo) on the road leading towards the Jarinje administrative crossing were removed in the evening of 9 August, Tanjug’s on-site reporter said. On the major road between Kosovska Mitrovica and Raska near Leposavic, heavy machinery and trucks, as well as piles of timber, which had been set up in the night of July 25, following the attempt of the Kosovo Police Service special unit ROSU to assume control over the administrative crossings Jarinje and Brnjak, were removed.

An empty tent and benches remained near the road, and only several citizens are present in the vicinity of the checkpoint. As Tanjug learned earlier from Leposavic Mayor Branko Ninic, by removing the barricades in that municipality of northern Kosovo, the city authorities showed that they will respect and implement the interim agreement reached between the Serbian government and KFOR. He said that the Serbs will keep watch over the checkpoint in shifts, and in that way follow closely the situation at the Jarinje administrative crossing.

The barricades that Serbs had set up in the village of Rudare near the town of Zvecan, and in Zupce near Zubin Potok will remain until further notice, but the traffic is running smoothly.

Serbia’s B92 quotes Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Alexander Lukashevich as saying that despite the agreement on refraining from military actions of August 5, “Priština might be tempted to regain the control over the Serb population in Kosovo by force.” Lukashevic added that he had called on the EU, NATO and the UN, which had their mission offices in the region, to show maximum responsibility in order to prevent such a scenario from occurring and pointed out that concerns of the people living northern Kosovo should not be ignored.

Kosovo’s Interior Minister Bairam Redjeppi has said that the Kosovo government has no guarantees that the barricades will be removed and added that the situation is more peaceful compared to previous days, C media reported.

Macedonia

James Pardew: The Ohrid Framework Agreement – Model for Settlement of Ethnic Conflicts

Skopje, The Ohrid Framework Agreement propelled Macedonia towards full democracy, civil rights, and recognition of the cultural and ethnic identity of people in the country. I am very satisfied from the agreement’s implementation. Large progress has been made. It was difficult to negotiate, but harder to implement, and this is the important thing.

This is the assessment of James Pardew, former NATO Deputy Assistant Secretary General for Operations, who took part as facilitator in the negotiations between the Macedonian and Albanian parties while creating the Framework Agreement, in an interview with Deutsche Welle on the accord’s 10. anniversary.

According to him, it is disappointing that Macedonia is still not a NATO and EU member, but hopes that the name row with Greece will be overcome, resulting in the country’s Euro-Atlantic accession.

The International Court in Hague Postpones its Ruling on Macedonia vs Greece Case

Skopje, The International Court in Hague delayed its decision on Macedonia versus Greece case. According to Macedonia’s Vecer newspaper report the court will come with a ruling in November instead of September. In analysts’ opinion, this is an opportunity the two sides to find a solution before the court takes a decision.

Dnеvnik: 3,000 Submit Declarations that They Have Not Collaborated with the State Secret Services

Skopje, Around 3000 state officials have failed to submit their declarations to the Lustration Commission in order to declare that they hadn’t collaborated with the state secret services, Macedonian Dnevnik reported. According to the chairman of theso-called Lustration Commission Tome Adjiev legal proceedings would be initiated against those who didn’t respect the law.

Montenegro

Germany Foreign Minister Guido Westervelle’s Visit to Montenegro

Podgorica, Problems in Kosovo should be resolved through dialogue, Montenegrin Prime Minister Igor Luksic and German Foreign Minister Guido Westervelle said in Podgorica late on 9 August.

Westervelle said that all Wesytern Balkan countries should be aware that the only way to reach the European Union was through the path of democracy, reforms, cooperation and peaceful resolution of all conflicts.

“There is only one way to resolve conflicts and that is dialogue. Territorail integrity of the countries of the region is something Germany is not willing to discuss,” Westervelle said at a press conference. Westervelle said Berlin welcomed the constructive approach of Montenegro to the Kosovo issue. Luksic said that Podgorica wanted all issues regarding Kosovo to be resolved through dialogue. Luksic also said Montenegro was ready to help, as much as it could, to resolve the problem in the Kosovo north as soon as possible.

Serbia

Serbian newspapers: “Germany will not Require Serbia to Recognize Kosovo’s Independence” and “Germany will Call on the Serbian Government to Give up N Kosovo”

Belgrade, The visit of German Chancellor Angela Merker to Belgrade is of crucial importance for the integration of Serbia in the European Union, Danas newspaper writes. According to Serbian analysts, Merker will reiterate the position of Berlin that Kosovo is an independent state, but it will not require Serbia to recognize Kosovo’s independence.

Germany is one of the most important foreign political partners of Serbia, which is backed by the fact that the trade turnover between the countries amounts to EUR1.5 B.

According to Blitz newspaper, the forthcoming visit of the German Chancellor will not bring good news to Serbia on 22 August. The newspaper comments that it will further encourage the economic relations between Serbia and Germany. However, Blitz writes, Germany will call on the Serbian government to give up N Kosovо to Pristina and in turn Serbia will have a date for commencement the accession talks with EU.

Police Removed the Barricades of Striking Road Workers

Belgrade, Police has removed the barricades of the protesting road workers in Serbia, Beta Agency reports. The workers of Nibens Group intended to block the traffic along 10 Corridor in protest that they have not been paid their monthly wages. The demonstrators prevented the traffic on the roads to Bulgaria and Macedonia and withdrew late in the evening of 10 August after it became clear that Turkey reacted. The police removed the roadblocks on the grounds of the fact that the demonstrators did not have permission for the protest. The strike will continue on 10 August.

Turkey

Syria’s President al-Assad Chilly Welcome of Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu

President Bashar al-Assad stressed that Syria will not be tolerant in pursuing the armed terrorist groups

Davutoğlu received a chilly welcome in the Syrian capital, with only a deputy foreign minister greeting him at the airport on arrival. In Ankara, EU Minister Egemen Bağış voiced hope that Davutoğlu “will return [from Damascus] after making important contributions to peace,” Hurryiet reports. Syrian President Bashar al- Assad showed on 10 August no sign of backing down from a deadly crackdown on protesters despite mounting pressure from Turkey and other countries.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu met al-Assad in Damascus to deliver a warning as other countries also sent envoys to increase the pressure on the Syrian leader. Davutoğlu and al-Assad led three-hour talks between delegations from their countries, and then held a face-to-face meeting that lasted another three hours, a Turkish diplomat said.

Envoys from India, Brazil and South Africa also headed to Damascus to press for an end to the bloodshed, which activists say has killed about 1,700 people since March.

Davutoğlu was dispatched to Damascus to convey to al-Assad a stern message from Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who said over the weekend that Ankara’s patience was running out with the brutal assaults on protesters and Damascus’ foot-dragging on democratic reform.

President Bashar al-Assad stressed that Syria will not be tolerant in pursuing the armed terrorist groups for the sake of protecting Homeland’s stability and citizens’ security, as it is also determined to complete the ongoing steps of comprehensive reform, saying that Syria is open to any help offered by the brotherly and friendly countries in this regard, Syria’s SANA Agency reported.

Turkish Shop Owners Defend their Property in London

Turkish business owners between Hackney’s Stoke Newington High Street and Kingsland Road in London have been fighting to defend their properties from days of rioting across the United Kingdom, Hurryiet reports.

“We came out of our shops but the police asked us to do nothing. But the police did not do anything, so, as more came, we chased them off ourselves,” Yılmaz Karagöz, a shop owner told Hurryiet on the latest riots in London.

BALKANS ECONOMY

Albania

Bank of Albania: Lending Criteria Tighten

Tirana, Lending standards for large, small and medium-size businesses became tighter in the second quarter of 2011 and are expected to further tighten in the third quarter because of the banks’ deteriorating bad loan portfolios, the latest survey of the Bank of Albania shows

Bulgaria

Bulgarian Financial Minister “Bulgarians Should Mind Their Own Business, There Is No Global Crisis”

Sofia, “Bulgarians should not be worried because they will not suffer from the effects of international stock market turmoil,” Finance Minister Simeon Dyankov, quoted by Novinite.com. Dyankov’s recommendation is that Bulgarians should “mind their own business calmly”, and should not be affected by panic on the global stock markets. He did remind that Moody’s Investors Service recently upgraded Bulgaria’s government debt ratings to Baa2 with a stable outlook from Baa3.

“There is no new global financial crisis coming up. Some countries might have problems with their fiscal stability but Bulgaria doesn’t – and won’t have any such problems,” Djankov promised, as cited 10 August by the 24 Chasa daily.

He further stressed that “somewhere in the world” there could be higher unemployment and higher inflation as a result of the debt crises and market turmoil but Bulgaria “definitely” will be away from such problems.

The comment of the Bulgarian Finance Minister comes amidst of global turmoil on financial markets after a recent downgrade of US debt, combined with worries that EU efforts to put a safety net under heavily indebted Italy and.

Bulgaria’s Gas Consumption Grows 2% on Annual Basis

Sofia, Bulgaria’s consumption of natural gas grew by 2% in 2010 compared with 2009, according to the newly released financial report of state company Bulgargaz.

The Bulgargaz report, which has been published in the Bulgarian Trade Registry, states that in 2010 the Bulgarian economy and households consumed a total of 2.53 billion cubic meters of natural gas compared with 2.48 billion cubic meters the previous year. Bulgaria’s output of natural gas, while occupying a negligible share of the domestic consumption, also grew tangibly in 2010, with the major producer, UK company Melrose Resources, providing a total of 54 million cubic meters to Bulgargaz. Thus, Bulgaria’s natural gas dependence on Russia’s Gazprom actually decreased down to 97.8% from 99.6% in 2009.

In 2010, however, Bulgargaz imported natural gas at a price that was 12.8% higher on average than it did in 2009. While the natural gas price for Bulgargaz decreased by 23.5% and 7% in the first and second quarters of 2010 respectively, it grew by 48% in the third quarter, and by 58% in the last quarter. The financial report of Bulgargaz states that the company’s financial condition is worsening because of the decision of the State Commission for Energy and Water Regulation.

Bulgaria’s Supreme Court to Rule on Lukoil Case on 10 August

Bulgaria’s Supreme Administrative Court (VAS) is expected to rule on the revocation of Lukoil Bulgaria’s license to operate excise storage facilities. The sitting of the Supreme Court is scheduled for 10 August. The information was reported by the Bulgarian Sega daily, citing their own sources.

Meanwhile, in anticipation of the VAS decision, the Customs Agency has published their appeal claims to VAS against the rule of the Sofia City Administrative Court, SCAC, which reinstated the license on the grounds the only refinery in the country, owned by Lukoil, should continue work because the opposite would cause serious harm to the economy.

The Customs say there is a threat for the State treasury to loose large revenues over the failure of Lukoil to install the mandatory electronic measuring devices since it allows the company to sell fuels without paying the owed excise. They further point out Lukoil Neftohim has given them a bank guarantee, but it covers only 25% of the excise.

On August 3, Bulgaria’s Customs Agency logged an appeal against the SCAC rule to reinstate the license of Lukoil Bulgaria to operate excise warehouses.

On August 1, SCAC blocked the preliminary execution of the Customs Agency decision on the withdrawal of Lukoil’s license and the closure of the only refinery in the country.

The crude oil processing plant in the Black Sea city of Burgas can work under the conditions preceding the punitive measure of ACSC until the Supreme Administrative Court (VAS) decides on the appeal lodged by the Customs Agency. According to a report of the state-owned TV channel BNT, little after Lukoil was officially given the green light, the tanker terminal started servicing incoming and outgoing oil tankers.

After the refinery was stripped of its license, over the failure to install electronic measuring devices, the oil processing installations of the plant were switched into hibernation mode, which allowed it to start working at full capacity within 8 hours after the Court permit.

Croatia

Croatian Government Discusses Cushioning Scenarios re Swiss Currency Appreciation with Commercial Banks

Zagreb, The Croatian National Bank (HNB) is closely monitoring talks between the government and commercial banks aimed at cushioning the consequences of the appreciation of the Swiss franc for the users of housing and car loans pegged to the franc and should they result in a transparent model for the resolving of this problem, the central bank will voice its opinion and possibly actively join its implementation, in accordance with its powers.

Croatian National Bank (HNB) governor Zeljko Rohatinski told Croatian Television on 9 August that the HNB was prepared to be included in the process aimed at finding a solution to cushion the consequences of the appreciation of the Swiss franc for people who took loans pegged to the Swiss currency, adding that one of the possible measures was the so-called balloon loan proposed by the banks and fixing the franc exchange rate at HRK 6.

Greece

Greece to Extend Bond Swap Maturities beyond 2020

Athens, European Union and Institute of International Finance officials are studying an extension of a Greek bond swap to cover government debt maturing by 2024, instead of 2020, a senior Greek banker said on 10 August, Kathimerini reported.

“They are examining extending the maturities of the bonds that will participate in the exchange from 2020 to 2024,” said the banker, who was briefed by IIF officials.

“That will make it easier for the Greek government to achieve the target of 90 percent participation from the private sector,” commented the banker  on condition of anonymity.

“Greece will extend the terms of a bond swap offer to include government debt maturing after 2020, in a bid to reach a participation target of 135 billion euros,” Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos said on 10 August. “Our aim is to have 90 percent participation for this, or 135 billion euros,” Venizelos told a Greek radio.

Serbia

Serbian Government Holds Meeting over Global Crisis’ Impact on Serbia

Belgrade, Serbian Prime Minister Mirko Cvetkovic will hold on 10 Auguts a meeting due to the current turmoil in the world markets which could stir a new wave of crisis in Europe and Serbia, the government’s media office released. The meeting, which will be attended by the National Bank of Serbia governor and other representatives, relevant ministers, as well as chairman and members of the Fiscal Council, will focus on the ways in which Serbia can stand ready to minimize the impact of the crisis, the release reads.

100,000 Construction Workers in Serbia may Lose their Jobs

Trade unions warned about the poor position of construction workers in Serbia, the danger of around 100.000 people losing their jobs and the problem of charging performed works.

President of the Alliance of Independent Trade Unions of Serbia (SSS) Ljubisav Orbovic said that the SSS would continue advocating establishment of an environment that would make it possible for the construction sector to recover and workers to get decent wages and safe working conditions, the SSS said in a release posted on its website.

Unless tangible measures are implemented, over 100.000 may be left jobless while certain construction companies might close down due to insolvency, the release states.

Romania

Romania’s President Calls on the Government to Continue Public Spending Cuts; Inflation down to 4.85% in July

Romanian President Traian Basescu called on the Government to remain cautious and continue to cut public spending in the current difficult economic context.

Romanian consumer prices fell for the second straight month in July, as food prices continued to decline, while the annual inflation saw an unexpected drop to 4.85%, from 7.9% a month earlier, official data showed.

Cyprus

Cyprus’ New Government Proposed Austerity Package: EUR 22.5 M Savings in 2011

The government and civil service unions agreed on a number of measures concerning the public sector that will be part of an austerity package expected to be officially announced on 10 August and submitted to Parliament on 11 August.

Shortly after the measures were announced, DIKO vice chairman Nicolas Papadopoulos said his party – which abandoned the coalition only last week – could not be expected to support the package.

“What we agreed was for a specific contribution on pensions, which everyone says is a time-bomb but it seems some don’t want to do anything to prevent the explosion,” Papadopoulos told Sigma television. He said that his party would either try to amend the bills or reject them tomorrow.

“The only certain thing is that measures agreed tonight at the Presidential Palace will not be implemented,” Papadopoulos said.

Government Spokesman Stefanos Stefanou told reporters after the meeting: “Included in the agreement are substantive structural changes to rationalise public finances. At the same time the government will continue the dialogue for additional measures related to the situation created after the deadly Mari blast.”

The measures provide for a 10 per cent cut in the pay scales for newcomers in the broader state sector, including newcomers in the social insurance pension fund – it is understood they will be paying 6.8 per cent instead of the current 3.45 per cent — and raising civil servants’ contributions to the widow and orphan fund to 2.0 per cent from 0.75 per cent.

The deal also provides for a 3.0 per cent per year contribution from every worker of the broader state sector for three years, and if necessary extend the measure further should problems continue. The measures are expected to save the state EUR 22.5 M this year and EUR 101.65 M in 2012

Turkey

Electricity Consumption Breaks a Record; Local Supplies Insufficient; There’ll be No Electricity Cuts

According to data published by the Energy Ministry, the daily electricity consumption was about 737 million kilowatt per hour as of July 28, a record level since the establishment of the Republic, Anatolia news agency reported on Tuesday.

The average daily consumption stood at about 600 million kilowatts per hour in June, and it soared from 715 million to about 737 million kilowatts from July 19 to July 28, respectively.

Consumption of electricity thus increased by 8.1 percent in July 2011 compared to the same month last year. A total of 19.4 billion kilowatts of electricity were consumed in Turkey in July 2010, and the figure was about 21 billion kilowatts in July this year.

Meanwhile, the total electricity consumption for the period between January and July in 2011 grew 9.4 percent to 131.1 billion kilowatts. The figure was 119.8 billion kilowatts for the same period of 2010.

The country’s installed capacity, on the other hand, reached a peak level of 36,122 megawatts at 2.30 p.m. on July 28.

Turkey’s total electricity generation capacity is about 51,300 megawatts. However, the disposable supply is between 38,000 to 39,000 megawatts due to defects and repairs, authorities from the ministry said.

However, Turkey imported electricity from Georgia, Bulgaria and Iran during the consumption peak this summer, authorities said.

Turkey is highly dependent on imports regarding energy resources and rising demand is making the country even more dependent externally. Moreover, energy imports are one of the main items behind the country’s large current-account gap.

The current account deficit continued to widen in May, to a level of $7.75 billion, according to Central Bank data revealed in July.

(Mariela Zamfirova, MBA; 10 August 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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