THE UNBIASED OBSERVERS, Issue 34


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Thursday, 18 August 2011

Politics and others:

Albania:

  • Albanian Miners Hunger Strike Enters Its 25th Day

Bulgaria

  • Bulgaria Resembles a Political Theater, Former US Ambassador to Bulgaria James Pardew
  • Bulgaria’s Ex Prime Minister will Pay a Token Fine over Leakage of Information on Organised Crime
  • Kosovo’s PM Thanks Bulgaria for Its Readiness to Open State Food Reserves to Save Kosovo

Croatia

  • Croatian Island Srednja Kluda for Sale at the Price of US$ 1.5 M
  • Zagreb Country Court Extends EX PM Ivo Sanader’s Detention by Two Months
  • Status Conference Set for 12 September on Croatian Generals Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac Cases

Greece

  • Greek Cabinet Meets on 17 August after Transport’s Ministry Secretary General was Dismissed

Kosovo

  • Residents of Priluzje Stage a 3rd Day Protest

Macedonia

  • The Ambassadors of Germany and Netherlands Present their Credentials to Macedonia’s President

Serbia

  • Serbia’s Government Protests Obstruction of Movement of Buses by Pristina
  • Serbia’s Government Willing to Accept Joint Customs Form

Turkey

  • Turkish F-16 Strike PKK Bases in Iraq
  • Israel – Turkey: No Apology for Mavi Marmara
  • Turkey Does not Favor Military Intervention in Syria

 

 

Economy:

Bulgaria

  • Gas Extraction in Kaliakra Continues by Melrose Resources
  • Europa LLP Completes Acquisition of the Sofia Mall
  • ERG Sells Oriflame Shopping Center for EUR 1.63 M

Croatia

  • Croatia’s Government and Commercial Banks on the Way to Agree on Fixing the Issue with Franc-Pegged Housing Loans

Greece

  • Greece’s Tourism Close to 10% Annual Increase

Turkey

  • Turkey Seeks Partners for Building its Nuclear Plant in Sinop

BALKANS – POLITICS & OTHER

Albania

Albanian Miners Hunger Strike Enters Its 25th Day 

Tirana , The hunger strike of a group of miners at the Bulqiza mine entered in its 25th day on 18 August. Experts of the National Agency of Natural Resources have been denied access to the mine’s galleries. A group of agency specialists arrived on 17 August to assess the damage since miners stopped work more than a month ago, but they were not allowed to enter the galleries by the miners who demanded that representatives of company ACR be present, ATA Agency reported. Miners considered the visit by Agency experts as an attempt to pressure them to stop the hunger strike. Over 50 miners from Mirdita and Pukahave traveled to northern town of Bulqiza a day ago to support their colleagues on the fourth week of the hunger strike in a gallery some 1400 meters below the surface. The miners demand 40% increase in payment, safety work conditions and benefits as well as change of the ACP company management.

Bulgaria

Bulgaria Resembles a Political Theater, Former US Ambassador to Bulgaria James Pardew

“The organized crime and corruption have been a gigantic problem of Bulgaria ever since 2002 and now in 2011. None of the top Mafiosi has been arrested or sued and punished. This applies also for the corrupted high-level government officials, “James Pardew tells Bulgaria’s Trud newspaper in an interview.

Making an overview of Bulgaria’s development in the last 10 years, the former US diplomats says that crime and corruption continue to suffocate Bulgaria and prevent its development.

Commenting on Bulgaria’s resemblance to a political theater, Pardew points out that Bulgaria’s leaders strip up a lot of fuss over certain issues without doing anything to fix them. Later, they just declare themselves winners and nothing happens. As a good example, Pardew sets ups the Lukoil case, which is a dramatization at top-level. According to Pardew, the combination of organized crime, corruption and imitation of work as a political style are really harmful for Bulgaria.

Bulgaria’s Ex Prime Minister will Pay a Token Fine over Leakage of Information on Organised Crime

Sofia, Sergey Stanishev, Bulgaria’s former Prime Minister (2005-2009) and leader of the opposition Socialist Party, who was charged over the leak of a classified report on organized crime would face only a fine of EUR 511 – EUR 2,556.Prosecutors find Stanishev guilty of losing seven confidential documents, which he has received personally and has signed. There have been suspicions that the alleged concealment of the confidential documents, which triggered the investigation against him, was a plot hatched by Stanishev himself in a bid to escape prosecution.

Late in October 2009 Stanishev was questioned over the concealment and leaking of the classified report, but denied any offence and described the case as provocation and undue use of “pressure”. He was officially charged in July 2010.

The contentious year-old top secret report by the National Security Agency (DANS), which sheds light on the influence of criminal organizations within certain ministries and state agencies, was mysteriously handed over to Prime Minister Boyko Borisov by notorious security agent Aleksei Petrov at the end of October and was unofficially published online days after.Stanishev claimed he properly returned the report to DANS, as required by law. He also relinquished his immunity as a MP, in order to facilitate the proceedings.

Kosovo’s PM Thanks Bulgaria for Its Readiness to Open State Food Reserves to Save Kosovo

Pristina/Sofia, “We thank Bulgaria for its readiness to provide Kosovo with food in the event of a shortage, and even to open its State Reserve for that,”  Kosovo Prime Minister Hashin Thaci stated after a meeting with Bulgarian Minister of Agriculture and Foods Miroslav Naydenov in Pristina, as cited by the press service of the Bulgarian Agriculture Ministry and Novinite.com. Naydenov was in Kosovo for talks with his Kosovo counterpart Blerand Stavileci about Bulgarian exports of food to Kosovo, as the young republic looks for ways to make up for an embargo its government imposed in July on products coming from Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The crisis emerged over  the refusal to acknowledge Kosovo’s Customs stamps as an independent country and banning the import of Kosovo-made goods. Until now, Kosovo imported food products from Serbia valued at EUR 300 M with 80% of them being food.

Kosovo Prime Minister Thaci expressed hopes that Bulgaria would be able to help Kosovo with the creation of a state food reserve of its own as well as with the transfer of agricultural know-how and technologies and the introduction of EU agricultural and food standards.

Croatia

Croatian Island Srednja Kluda for Sale at the Price of US$ 1.5 M

Zagreb, The island of Srednja Kluda, located in the Trogir archipelago north of Split and spanning 2.4 hectares, now has a price tag of nearly USD 1.5 M, according to Croatian news portal dalje.com. The island belongs to Marusic brothers whose grandfather and great-grandfather had bought piece by piece over years.According to Marusic family there is interest but the bureaucracy slows down the process.

Croatia, which left Socialist Yugoslavia 15 years ago, after waging a 4-year war of independence, opened its real estate market to foreigners in 2005. However, the government moved to outlaw construction works on small uninhabited islands in an alleged bid to preserve them for agriculture and tourism. The ban discouraged investors from the the 1,200 or so islands scattered across the eastern Adriatic. Apart from introducing the ban on new building on the islands, the government also requested owners to offer the land to the government first. The Croatian Cabinet is not likely to be on the buyers’ list but the clearing of the pre-emptive rights takes about six months. There are no indications that the government, which will face general elections in December, will drop the construction ban.

Zagreb Country Court Extends EX PM Ivo Sanader’s Detention by Two Months

Zagreb, The Zagreb County Court extended Ivo Sanader’s detention in investigative custody for two more months on 17 August. The Court did not accept the claim of Sanader’s defence counsel that the former Croatian Prime Minister had not attempted to hide in Austria but he had been there to attend scheduled business meeting. One of Sanader’s lawyers, Cedo Prodanovic, quoted by Hina Agency, insisted that before his arrest in Salzburg on 10 December, Sanader had made previous arrangements to return to Croatia.

Sanader served as the Prime Minister of Croatia from 2003 to 2009. In December 2010, the Croatian authorities charged him in two high-profile corruption indictments, but he made himself unavailable and had to be arrested in Austria. He was extradited from Austria to Croatia in July 2011.

Status Conference Set for 12 September on Croatian Generals Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac Cases

Zagreb, Appeals chamber judge Theodor Meron in the Gotovina-Markac case at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) has set a status conference for 12 September when a deadline expires for the prosecution to respond to appeals of the defence teams of the Croatian Generals Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac, who were earlier this year sentenced to 24 and 18 years respectively for war crimes during and after Operation Storm in August 1995 when Croatia liberated areas held by Serb rebels.

Greece

Greek Cabinet Meets on 17 August after Transport’s Ministry Secretary General was Dismissed

Athens, The Cabinet will meet on 17 August  as Greece seeks to pick up the pace of its reform program ahead of a visit by an inspection team representing its international lenders, Kathimerini reports. The Greek government is reportedly consumed by internal tensions, evident from the firing of the general secretary at the Transport and Infrastructure Ministry.

Prime Minister George Papandreou is faced with the challenge of conducting policy on two distinct tracks. Firstly, the government has to get a grip on the country’s deteriorating economic health while convincing the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund that it is forging ahead with the fiscal and structural reforms that have been agreed.

Meanwhile, Papandreou also has to address domestic concerns, which range from public dissatisfaction with the continuing austerity measures to the ideological battles going on within PASOK. Two key dates for the premier with respect to striking this domestic balance are PASOK’s congress on 3 September and his economic policy speech at the Thessaloniki International Fair on 10 September.

It was announced that Transport Ministry general secretary Haris Tsiokas, a party stalwart from PASOK’s left wing, was being replaced by Aris Bourdaras, an official at the Public Administration Inspectorate. The reasons for Tsiokas’s dismissal were not made public.

Kosovo

Residents of Priluzje Stage a 3rd Day Protest

Pristina, Several hundred residents of the village of Priluzje near Vucitrn in north-eastern Kosovo-Metohija, have gathered on 17 August for the third day in a row to protest against the construction of a bridge over the Sitnica River, which would enable Albanians from villages at the foot of Mt Cicavica to reach the major read Pristina-Mitrovica through Priluzje.

The people living in Priluzje set up a crisis staff late Tuesday, and Wednesday they started signing a petition demanding that the construction works on this bridge be stopped or that it be moved more to north, towards Vucitrn. The petition will be forwarded to the UN, KFOR and the Vucitrn authorities.

The Serbs in Priluzje are afraid that, as they put it, once Albanians are able to go through their village, there will be security threats.

President of the Serb Vucitrn municipality Zoran Rakic told Tanjug that the crisis staff has decided to continue staging protests, and that several days ago they informed KFOR Commander Erhard Buehler about their concerns.

Macedonia

The Ambassadors of Germany and Netherlands Present their Credentials to Macedonia’s President

Skopje, The new German, Dutch Ambassadors to Macedonia, Gudrun Steinacker and Marriët Schuurman respectively, presented their credentials to President Gjorge Ivanov on 17 August, MIA Agency reported.

Resuming of the Euro-Atlantic integration processes is Macedonia’s strategic goal and unique prospect for its further economic, political development, Ivanov said at the meeting with Steinacker.

Leading European power Germany is one of Macedonia’s most significant trade partners and friends, said Ivanov and voiced hope for Steinacker’s mandate in the country to contribute to further advancing of the bilateral relations, the President’s Cabinet said in a press release.

At the meeting with Schuurman, Ivanov extended gratitude for the Netherlands’ support of Macedonia’s efforts to join NATO and the European Union, which will also bring invaluable benefit to the prosperity, stability of the entire region.

Serbia

Serbia’s Government Protests Obstruction of Movement of Buses by Pristina

Belgrade, The Serbian government called on the UN – as the body under whose protectorate Kosovo is – as well as on the EU, to prevent the interim Priština government’s attempts of obstructing freedom of movement in the territory of the southern Serbian province, Serbia’s B 92 reported.

By returning buses of operators from central Serbia, the Kosovo Albanian authorities “violated civilization norms with regard to the freedom of movement and it is exerting additional pressures on the Serb population in the southern province”, the Serbian government pointed out.

Such a move by the Priština government constitutes an attempt of institutionalizing the pressures on Serbs and other ethnic communities whose freedom of movement has been limited by their fear of (ethnic) Albanian extremists for 11 years now, the release states.

The Serbian government believes that the interim government in Priština is disavowing the implementation of the agreement on freedom of movement reached in the Belgrade-Priština dialogue.

Serbia’s Government Willing to Accept Joint Customs Form

Belgrade, Serbian Ministry for Kosovo State Secretary Oliver Ivanović said on 17 August that the Serbian government was willing to accept a joint customs form. He pointed out, however, that Serbia would never accept a “Kosovo” customs stampр B92 reported.

“Serbia would not like duties to be collected at administrative crossings,” he told Vienna-based daily Der Standard, pointing out that Belgrade wanted the implementation of the Central European Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA).

Der Standard recalled that CEFTA’s implementation did not mean that transit zones between central Serbia and Kosovo would be fully customs-free.

Ivanović pointed out he could not imagine a model according to which Kosovo Serbs would be linked by 80 percent to the government structures in Belgrade and by 20 percent to those in Priština.

Turkey

Turkish F-16 Strike PKK Bases in Iraq

Ankara, Turkish jets launched air raids on suspected bases belonging to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, in northern Iraq on 17 August, Turkish media reported. The raids came hours after eight soldiers and a village guard were killed in an ambush by PKK members. Some 15 warplanes took off from a Turkish base to strike at bases which the PKK use as a springboard to attack targets inside Turkey, according to a report on the NTV news channel.  CNNTürk television said Turkish F-16s were involved in the raids.

Pro-PKK Firat news agency said the Turkish jets were also targeting Qandil, a mountain on the Iraqi-Iranian border, where the PKK leaders are believed to be hiding.

The raids would be Turkey’s first cross border offensive since last summer, when Turkish warplanes carried out a series of retaliatory air raids on suspected PKK hideouts across the border.

Turkish officials warned of a major offensive against the PKK following the ambush on a military convoy near the border with Iraq, that killed eight soldiers and a village guard working with them.

“The retaliation they will find will be manifold stronger,” Defense Minister İsmet Yılmaz is quoted saying by Hurryiet.

At least 11 Turkish troops, including a major, were killed on 17 August in an ambush in southeast Turkey, Doğan news agency, or DHA, reported. The attack came just hours after the government announced plans to usher in a new era in the fight against terrorism in response to the deaths of 34 soldiers in the last month.

“We are at the point where words fail. There is no need to talk but to act. You will see the measures once they are taken,” Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan told reporters in Istanbul. “We are at the point where our patience with regard to Ramadan has run out. Those who do not distance themselves from terror will pay the price,” The Turkish Prime Minister said. In addition to the seven soldiers, one village guard was also killed in the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, attack in the eastern province of Hakkari’s Çukurca district, Erdoğan said. The soldiers were killed as a result of four mine explosions targeting special forces teams at two different points along the Hakkari-Çukurca road, the Hakkari Governor’s Office said in a statement. The attack also wounded 11 soldiers.

Israel – Turkey: No Apology for Mavi Marmara

Ankara, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayip Erdoğan said it was impossible for Turkish-Israeli relations to return to normal unless Israel apologizes to Turkey for the killing of nine Turks aboard the Mavi Marmara, a Gaza-bound aid ship, and lifts the embargo on Gaza. “Turkey will not take a step back. From now on we will act with the families who lost their relatives in the flotilla attack,” said Erdoğan on 17 August.

An Israeli official is quoted by Hurryiet as saying on 17 August that Israel would stick to its refusal to apologize to Turkey, dampening any prospects for reconciliation between the former allies. The decision, which the official said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu conveyed to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in a telephone call, was made days before the publication of the findings of a U.N. inquiry into the seizure of the Mavi Marmara last year, Reuters reported.

The so-called Palmer Report was repeatedly delayed to allow for Israeli-Turkish rapprochement talks amid concern in Washington over the rift between two countries that had been strategic partners in an increasingly stormy Middle East. Israeli officials, citing advance copies of the report, have said it would vindicate Israel’s blockade on the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip. Turkey, which like Israel had a delegate on the U.N. panel headed by former New Zealand Prime Minister Geoffrey Palmer, has said it would not accept such a finding.

The Mavi Marmara was part of an activist flotilla bringing humanitarian aid to Gaza when it was boarded by Israeli marines on the Mediterranean high seas on May 31, 2010. The marines shot dead nine Turks, including a dual U.S. citizen, during fierce deck brawls.

Netanyahu voiced regret over the killings. But Turkey insisted on a formal apology and compensation for those bereaved and injured.Israeli newspaper Yediot Aharonot said 17 August Israeli diplomats in Washington handed the government a message from US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton saying the Israel-Turkey crisis was interfering with US attempts to deal with the bloodshed in Syria.

Turkey Does not Favor Military Intervention in Syria

Ankara, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Turkey, Saudi Arabia and other governments should call on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down, declining to make that call herself, but Turkey is not willing to be the leading country in that role, Hurryiet Daily writes. Ankara does not rule out that option, but says it’s too early to call for Assad’s departure.

“It was crucial to develop a common regional attitude toward Syria,” Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu told reporters on 17 August in response to a question recalling Clinton’s remarks.

“We’ll extend contacts in our region to develop a joint attitude on Syria. We’d do the best for timing and for what to say,” the minister added.

“If there will be call on Assad to step down, it should not be Turkey to make the call, but everyone, first of all Syrian people should say that first,” a diplomatic source told the Hürriyet Daily News.

Turkey does not rule out the option but also is not considering it at the moment, another Turkish official told the Daily News.

“Turkey does not favor military intervention,” Davutoğlu said on 16 August and reiterated that Turkey condemns the Syrian army’s military operation against civilians was not acceptable.

 

BALKANS ECONOMY

Bulgaria

Gas Extraction in Kaliakra Continues by Melrose Resources

Sofia, Edinburgh-based oil and gas explorer Melrose Resources abandoned a well on the Galata block in the western Black Sea, offshore Bulgaria. However, Melrose Resources announced its production rose 23% in the first half to 20,200 barrels a day on increased output in Egypt and Bulgaria, Novinite.com reported.Profit after tax rose to US$ 33.2 M from US$ 4.1 M year earlier, the company said in a statement in London. The company also reduced debt and revenue increased 42 percent.

“We’re starting to see the benefits from our investment in Egypt and Bulgaria,” Chief Executive Officer David Thomas told Bloomberg agency in a telephone interview.

According to the company the combination of low development costs, strong regional gas prices and competitive terms make Bulgaria one of the very attractive exploration environments for it.

Last week the company announced it has abandoned the Kaliakra East-1 site in the Black Sea after failing to find oil since its “reservoir interval was eroded”.

However Melrose made it clear it is pressing ahead with plans to acquire 3D seismic date for 500 square kilometres of the Galata Block to the north of the Kaliakra location. Melrose Resources landed a seven-year concession contract to extract natural gas from the Kaliakra field in Bulgaria at the end of September 2010. Earlier in 2010 Bulgaria’s government had granted the company a ten-year concession for the extraction of natural gas at the Kavarna deposit. The Kavarna deposit itself is not big but together with two other deposits nearby – Kaliakra and Kavarna East – it has a total of 3 billion cubic meters of natural gas.

In 2001, a Melrose subsidiary signed a 25-year concession agreement with Bulgaria to extract gas from a deposit in the Galata field.

Europa LLP Completes Acquisition of the Sofia Mall

Sofia, Europa Capital LLP, a member of the Rockefeller Group, has completed the acquisition of Mall of Sofia, the first shopping mall in Bulgaria’s capital, the company has announced. This is Europa’s second investment in Bulgaria this year and demonstrates its ongoing commitment to the region,” Europa Capital said in a statement on its website.

Mall of Sofia is a 23 600 sqm shopping center with 10 400 sqmof offices above, located in the centre of Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria.

The company further announced that the acquisition, which amounts to a transaction volume in excess of EUR 100 M, was financed by the existing lenders OTP Bank and DSK Bank. Mall of Sofia will continue to be managed by Avestus Capital Partners with property management provided by MOS Management.

Europa Capital was advised on the purchase of Mall of Sofia by CMS Cameron McKenna and CB Richard Ellis / MBL. GE Real Estate and Avestus Capital Partners were advised by Schoultz & Partners (Prague), Andonov & Radinska (Sofia), and Jones Lang LaSalle.

ERG Sells Oriflame Shopping Center for EUR 1.63 M

Sofia. ERG Capital – 1 REIT will sell the Oriflame shopping centre at the cost of EUR 1.63 M, or EUR 700,000 less than the price announced a year ago, the Standart daily informs. The name of the buyer has not been announced so far. ERG Capital – 1 announced a preliminary contract was concluded and the deal might not be finalised.
In May 2011 ERG Capital – 1 distributed dividends of EUR 567,505. For the first quarter of 2011 it registered a BGN 9.75 million profit that grew to EUR 4.99 M by end-June. Shareholders in ERG Capital – 1 are the Bulgarian American Enterprise Fund with 36.99%, Bulgarian American Credit Bank with 9.99% and the Allianz Bulgaria Voluntary Pension Fund with 5.21%.

Croatia

Croatia’s Government and Commercial Banks on the Way to Agree on Fixing the Issue with Franc-Pegged Housing Loans

Zagreb, The Croatian National Bank has expressed its support to an agreement between the government and banks to alleviate the position of debtors who have been granted the Swiss franc-pegged housing loans, Hina Agency said. As reported earlier the situation aggravated with the appreciation of the Swiss currency.

On August 3, the government proposed a model for settling the problem of high increases in instalments of housing loans pegged to the Swiss franc by having the banks reduce the instalments to the amount agreed at the time of the issue of the loan. The minimum sought by the government is that instalments should be fixed in kunas according to a fixed exchange rate of 5.8 kuna or less for one Swiss franc, and that the difference in the annuity between the actual rate and the proposed rate is treated by the banks as a deferred, interest-free claim. Such claims would be deferred for ten years.

The following day, August 4, HUB (Banking Association) welcomed the government’s model, but noted that its implementation should be elaborated because its present form was dubious in terms of relevant laws and regulations and did not take into account the profile of loan beneficiaries or the equality of bank clients who have taken loans pegged to other currencies. Meanwhile, the exchange rate of the Swiss franc has continued to skyrocket against the backdrop of developments on international currency markets, a deepening of the debt crisis in the euro zone, and the lowering of the US credit rating. The mean exchange rate of the Swiss franc on 10 August was 7.164 kuna. The franc gained in value by 37.5 percent (HRK 1.95) against August 10, 2010.

According to HNB (Croatian National Bank) data, more than 42 percent of housing loans and 47 percent of car loans in Croatia are tied to the Swiss franc.

Greece

Greece’s Tourism Close to 10% Annual Increase

Athens, The Greek tourism sector is very close to meeting its target of a 10 percent annual increase this year, as data from the Association of Hellenic Tourist Enterprises (SETE) are indicating a 9.95 percent increase in arrivals in the year to July.

International tourism arrivals at the country’s 13 main airports in the year’s first seven months amounted to 6,458,612, against 5,874,144 in the same period last year. All airports posted an increase, except for Athens, which declined by 2.74 percent in the period.

SETE notes a significant jump in June, compared with June 2010, and a healthy rise recorded in the first two weeks of August too. It attributes the increase to regaining some of the tourism lost last year due to the May violence in Athens, to the unrest in North Africa, the tension between Israel and Turkey, the decline in value-added tax in accommodation and the improvement in the visa-issuing system for Russians.

Romania

Romania’s Economic Growth 1.7% by Year End; Romania Targets Quick Investment

Bucharest, Romania is facing some tough austerity measures and its economic growth should reach just 1.7% this year, with expectations of strengthening in 2012, according to a report published on 17 August by the Economist Intelligence Unit, or EIU.

Romanian Prime Minister Emil Boc asked the ministers to prioritize investment projects that can be implemented quickly and that have a multiplier effect, in order for the gross domestic product to grow by 1.5% this year, the target agreed upon with the IMF and European Commission, Mediafax reported.

Boc said the Government spent EUR 800 M on investments in the first six months of 2011, compared to the same period of 2010.

The Government’s objective for quarters three and four, he said, is to get the maximum output of the investments into the economy. This entails: prioritizing projects that can be completed sooner, so as not to spend too much on their maintenance; implementing investments that have a multiplier effect in the economy, generating jobs and tax revenue; taking advantage of the good farming year.

These steps, plus continued absorption of EU funds, are sure to enable Romania to meet its goal for GDP growth, said Boc.

Turkey

Turkey Seeks Partners for Building its Nuclear Plant in Sinop

Ankara, Turkey has lost time with its negotiations with Japan on the plans to build a nuclear power plant in Sinop, and it has decided to negotiate with other countries as well, an Energy Ministry official told the Hürriyet Daily News. Finnish nuclear operators are also among the possible candidates.

“We have lost time while negotiating with Japan,” the ministry’s press undersecretary, Ali Eskigün, told the Hürriyet Daily News in a phone interview on 17 August. The ministry decided on 16 August to start negotiations with other countries for the nuclear plants planned to be built in the country, he added. “Japan agrees to construct the nuclear power plant, but they want another company to be its operator.”

Meanwhile, the country is also considering Finnish companies for a partnership to conclude an agreement for operating a nuclear power station planned to be built in the Black Sea province of Sinop, as Japan’s TEPCO withdrew from the plant bidding on 4 Aug. A Finnish official mentions names of two companies as possible candidates to operate the plant.

“Teollisuuden Voima Oyj [TVO] and Fortum Oyj might be among the possible candidates,” Risto Isaksson, head of the Public Communication at Finnish Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority, or STUK, told the Daily News in a phone interview on 16 August.

Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yıldız told Reuters on 15 August, “If we could not reach an agreement with Japan, then we might consider China and Finland.” After Japan, Canada and France, for the first time Finland has been ranked among possible candidates to operate the plant to be built in Sinop.

Turkey is interested in “offers from Finnish companies” as well as other possible candidates from other countries, said Eskigün. “The important thing is for Finnish companies to be interested in [Turkey’s nuclear energy plans], rather than Turkey be interested in them.”

“I’m sure you understand that as a stock exchange listed company, Fortum does not comment on the question,” Helena Aatinen, Fortum’s vice president for Corporate Relations & International Affairs, said in an e-mail response to the Daily News on 17 August

Fortum Oyj operates in 14 countries including Finland, Sweden, Norway, Russia, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, Belgium, Netherlands and Germany. In Finland, it has two nuclear power plants at Lovissa.

TVO Oyj, the other possible candidate for Turkey’s nuclear energy plans in Sinop, currently runs two nuclear power plant units at Olkiluoto plants in the Finnish province of Eurajoki, producing more than 16 percent of all the electricity consumed in the country.

(Mariela Zamfirova, MBA; 18 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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