THE UNBIASED OBSERVERS, Issue 39


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


Thursday, 25 August 2011

Politics and others:

Albania

  • Czech Ambassador to Albania Found Dead
  • Albania Hails Libya’s National Transitional Council

Bulgaria

  • Bulgarian Foreign Ministry Reveals an Incident in the Bulgarian Embassy in Tripoli with a Two Day Delay
  • A Plane Crash Kills Two People in Primorsko, Bourgas

Croatia

  • President Versus Government over Croatian Ambassadors’ Nomination
  • Croatia’s President Will Meet With His Italian Counterpart on 3 September
  • Croatia’s PM Confirms Friendship with Kosovo

Greece

  • Secret Greek Media Fund To Be Terminated
  • Changes in the Disciplinary Code Envisage Tougher Measures against Greek Civil Servant Offenders
  • Tax Inspections Lagging Behind in Greece

Kosovo

  • Haradinaj Retrial Interrupted

Macedonia

  • Macedonia Elects a New Broadcasting Council

Montenegro

  • Fires and Winds in Montenegro

Serbia

  • Serbia’s President Tadic “A Choice between EU and Kosovo Is Wrong”

Turkey

  • AKP “Foreign Intelligence May Be Involved in Illegal Recording of a Top Military”
  • Turkey’s New Anti-Terrorism Strategy: Fast Arms Procurement Procedures and Mobilisation of Professional Soldiers

Economy:

Albania

  • Albania’s Trade Deficit Drops in July

Bulgaria

  • Sofia Airport to Manage the New Balchik Black Sea Airport

Croatia

  • HPB Offers Housing Loans Denominated in Croatian Kuna

Cyprus

  • Cyprus Discusses a Second Austerity Package

Romania

  • Romania to Sell Tarom Airline on Bucharest Stock Exchange

Serbia

  • Serbia: Tight Fiscal Police and Spending Cuts

Turkey

  • Turkey’s Deputy PM Advises on Tight-Fisted Spending

 

BALKANS – POLITICS & OTHER

Albania

Czech Ambassador to Albania Found Dead

Tirana, The 55-year-old Czech Ambassador to Albania, Marketa Fialkova, has been found dead at her residence in Tirana shortly after midnight on 24 August, Albanian police said.

“The initial investigation took place and work to establish the cause is continuing in cooperation with the Legal Medicine Institute,” police said in a statement, cited by Xinhua.

Fialkova had been representing the Czech Republic in Albania for four years. Albanian Foreign Minister Edmond Haxhinasto called Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg to express his condolences. Fialkova is the third ambassador to die in Albania in this decade, following the demise of U.S. Ambassador Joseph Limprecht during a trip in a lake district and French Ambassador Michel Menachemoff.

Fialkova started working as a diplomat in the 1990’s, first posted to Poland. She also served as the personal secretary of the former President of the Czhech Republic Vaclav Havel. She was divorced and has no children.

Albania Hails Libya’s National Transitional Council

Tirana, Prime Minister Sali Berisha hailed the fall of Gaddafi regime, while stressing that the Albanian government is willing to contribute to humanitarian activities in Libya, ATA said

At the meeting of the Council of Ministers, Berisha said the Albanian government supports the National Transitional Council of Libya and will take all necessary steps to back Libyan people. Berisha also commented that Albanians understand well the Libyan people, who have managed to overthrow a barbaric dictatorship.

Bulgaria

Bulgarian Foreign Ministry Reveals an Incident in the Bulgarian Embassy in Tripoli with a Two Day Delay

Tripoli/Sofia, Bulgaria’s Embassy in the Libyan capital has fallen prey to rioters amidst the raging fight for Tripoli between Muammar Gaddafi’s loyalists and the rebels, the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry said in a press release, cited by Sofia Press Agency.

“Unknown armed persons broke into the building of the Bulgarian Embassy in Tripoli the night of August 22, 2011,” the Foreign Ministry in Sofia said on 24 August, two days after the intrusion.

The release reads that “no persons have been hurt during the breaking in, and the material damages inflicted upon the Bulgarian Embassy in Tripoli are insignificant.”

According to the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry, the circumstances around the incident are yet to be clarified. There is no indication if the rioters who broke into the Bulgarian Embassy in Tripoli belong to the forces of the Gaddafi loyalists, the Libyan rebels, or sheer looters.

Fighting between regime loyalists and rebel forces in Tripoli has continued over the past four days. The Bulgarian diplomatic quarters in Libya’s capital are not the first to fall prey to intrusions amidst the ongoing violence.

A Plane Crash Kills Two People in Primorsko, Bourgas

Bourgas, Two people have perished when a small plane crashed upon landing in Bulgaria’s Black Sea resort Primorsko, south of the city of Bourgas, Novinite.com reported.

Both people – a pilot and a passenger – are Bulgarian citizens; they died as the plane caught on fire upon hitting the ground, the Bulgarian Transport Ministry announced in the night of 23 August. No information about their identity has been made available immediately.

The airport in the Primorsko “Albena AD” tourist complex; it has all necessary permits and licenses from the Bulgarian air traffic authorities dating back to 2005.

The runway in the Primorsko airport is 910 m long and 300 m wide, and is fit for small planes of up to 10-12 seats

The small plane that crashed there on Tuesday was made a Cirrus SR22 made in the Czech Republic.

The Bulgarian Transport Ministry has launched an investigation into the accident.

Croatia

President Versus Government over Croatian Ambassadors’ Nomination

Zagreb, President Ivo Josipovic said on 24 August that the media did not get a list of names of possible ambassadors from his office. The names of possible ambassadors “were made public long before… The media didn’t get them from (my office). Perhaps it can be found out where they came from but I do agree that it’s a disgrace,” he explained. Foreign Minister Gordan Jandrokovic commented  earlier that the publication of the names of the ambassador nominees in the media was an attack on his ministry by the opposition Social Democratic Party, but would not speculate if the names had been leaked from Josipovic’s office.

“I don’t want to speculate on who divulged the names, but it definitely was not the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration,” the minister said, adding that he was willing to meet with Josipovic as soon as possible to analyse “name by name” the nominations for new ambassadors and consuls.

“PM Kosor invited (Josipovic) to talks. We are ready for a fair discussion during which we will make appropriate decisions,” Jandrokovic said.

TPortal reported that Croatia’s President was willing to discuss every nominee upon receipt of the official proposal and the opinion of the relevant committee, adding that he had nothing against discussing the matter with Prime Minister Kosor as well.

Asked when a meeting with the Croatian Prime Minister could be held, the President answered, “when commitments allow it.”

Asked if he still thought that Jandrokovic should be relieved of duty, Josipovic said, “I said what I would do, but I know that’s up to the Prime Minister and I don’t have the right to give her orders.”

Croatia’s President Will Meet With His Italian Counterpart on 3 September

Zagreb, Presidents Ivo Josipovic of Croatia and Giorgio Napolitano of Italy will organise during their meeting in Pula on September 3 the largest meeting with members of the Italian national community, promoting tolerance and multiculturalism, Italian Ambassador to Croatia Alessandro Pignatti Morano di Custoza, Italian Union president Furio Radin and the chairman of the Union’s executive committee, Maurizio Tremul, said on Wednesday.

The Josipovic-Napolitano meeting will be marked by the concert “Croatia and Italy Together in Europe” at Pula’s Roman amphitheatre called “Arena”.

Croatia’s PM Confirms Friendship with Kosovo

Pristina/Zagreb,  “Croatia is an ally to Kosova and the peoples of our two countries have mutual friendship and respect for each other,” the Prime Minister of the Republic of Kosova, Hashim Thaci, told Croatian Prime Minister, Jadranka Kosor in a meeting held on 24 August, ATA reported.

“This friendship is natural, not only because of our common past of fight for freedom, but, in the first place, because for our common vision of embracing Western Euro-Atlantic values,” he said.

“Croatia has been among the first countries to recognize the state of Kosova, and we congratulate you for building stable institutions, bridges of peace, cooperation, and this is the path we support. We support Kosova’s road for European Integration and here you will have an open and sincere friend,” the Croatia’s PM stated. 

Croatian Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor ended her day-long visit to Kosovo on 24 August by paying a brief visit to Janjevo, a village some 20 kilometres from Pristina inhabited by some 100 Croats. Kosor talked to representatives of the local Croat community who informed her of the reasons why Croats were leaving Kosovo in large numbers, the main one being problems in finding employment. Kosor said that Croatia wanted to help Kosovo Croats, adding that earlier in the day she discussed with Kosovo officials in Pristina the position of the Croat minority.

“We reached agreement on that issue and there will be progress to the benefit of both countries,” she said.

Greece

Secret Greek Media Fund To Be Terminated

Athens, A law that has existed since military dictators ruled Greece and which allows a government department responsible for media relations to use up to 600,000 euros of public money each year without having to record how the cash is distributed will be repealed, the government said on Wednesday.

Government official Ilias Mosialos, who is also responsible for media-related issues in his role as minister of state, said that the “classified expenditures” operated by the General Secretariat for Media, Communication and Information would cease in a bid to improve transparency and to boost state coffers.

Changes in the Disciplinary Code Envisage Tougher Measures against Greek Civil Servant Offenders

Athens, Civil servants are to face a stricter disciplinary process as part of the changes to the public sector being introduced by the government, Administrative Reform Minister Dimitris Reppas said on 24 August. Kathimerini quoted Reppas as saying that the changes aim to ensure that white-collars, who often benefit from lenient disciplinary measures, are adequately dealt with if they commit offenses.

“The vast majority of civil servants have no reason to want to operate in a state of impunity,” said Reppas, who is seeking to make changes to a disciplinary code that was enshrined in law 60 years ago.

Tax Inspections Lagging Behind in Greece

Athens, The performance of tax offices is becoming another major problem for the country’s finances, as Finance Ministry data made public on Wednesday showed that tax inspectors are doing a particularly poor job of checking for tax evasion.

Official figures for June, the month when new tax measures were decided, revealed that out of the country’s 34 major tax offices, 12 had not performed a single audit on taxpayers, while 31 clocked an average of less than one check per employee.

Kosovo

Haradinaj Retrial Interrupted

Pristina/Hague, The trial against former leader of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) Ramus Haradinaj was interrupted on 23 August and will not be continued until the Trial Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia (ICTY) decides on the request filed by the prosecutor who asked that the record from the Fatmir Ljimaj case dating back 2005 should be adopted, since it contains the testimony of Sefcet Kabasi who refused to respond to prosecution’s questions as regards KLA crimes.

Haradinaj and co-defendants Idriz Baljaj and Lahi Brahimaj are subject of proceedings in a partially renewed process for crimes committed against Serbs and other non-Albanian population in 1998. Asked whether he told the truth back in 2005, Kabasi, as the key witness in the trial, replied that he cannot recall the exact period but he added that since he is not in a habit of lying, he believes that he did his best back then, although he cannot clarify the matter properly now.

Kabashi was arrested in the Netherlands several days ago and extradited to the tribual to face charges of contempt of court, originating in 2007, when he refused to testify at the first-instance trial against Haradinaj.

Ramush Haradinaj, Lahi Ibrahimaj and Idriz Balaj were returned to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, ICTY, for a partial retrial after the prosecution convinced an appeal judge that two key witnesses had not been heard. The trio in the case, known as Haradinaj et al, were previously indicted on charges related to the murders, kidnapping, tortures and rapes of Serbs, Roma and Albanians between March and September 1998. During the conflict in Kosovo, Haradinaj was a commander of the Kosovo Liberation Army, KLA. Haradinaj, 43, was indicted in 2004 while serving as Kosovo’s Prime Minister, and voluntarily surrendered to the Tribunal.

The trial against Haradinaj, Baljaj and Brahimaj started before the ICTY on August 18, when the prosecution and the defence gave their opening statements. This is the first trial in history of the ICTY to be repeated.

Macedonia

Macedonia Elects a New Broadcasting Council

Skopje, Macedonian Parliament resumed the debate on election of new Broadcasting Council members on 24 August, MIA reported. Under the amendments to the Broadcasting Law, adopted this July, the Broadcasting Council should now have 15 instead of nine members. Per two of the six members are to nominated by the Head of State and the Association of Local Self Government Units (ZELS), and per one by the Anti-Corruption and the Commission for Protection of Competition.

Zoran Trajcevski and Selver Ajdini are the President’s nomminees, while Lazo Petrusevski and Zamir Mehemeti – the ZELS’ ones. Metodija Jancevski and Metodi Stimenoski are nominated by the Anti-Corruption and the Commission for Protection of Competition respectively.

The opposition MPs said the new law was aimed to put the Broadcasting Council under the influence of ruling parties, enabling the government to handle the media.

Montenegro

Fires and Winds in Montenegro

Podgorica, High winds and soaring temperatures have led to many outbreaks of fire in Montenegro, with the situation in the north of the country said to be especially serious, reported Radio Television Montenegro (RTCG) on 24 August.

“The situation in the north is so worrisome that we will in coordination with protection and emergency services discuss further action,” said Deputy Interior Minister for Emergency Situations Zoran Begovic.According to the official, the towns of Pljevlja and Berane, not far from the Serbian border, are the most vulnerable.

With no rain in sight and temperatures expected to top 40 degree Celsius, firefighters and local volunteers have been able to slow the spread of a number of fires through Montenegro, but unable to extinguish most of them.

Although firefighters along with members of the Montenegrin Army have reportedly been able to contain many of the fires around the capital of Podgorica, a nearby pine forest remains vulnerable to an outbreak.

Romania

Romania Adopts a Clawback Tax

Bucharest, Romanian Prime Minister Emil Boc asked the new Health Minister, Ladislau Ritli on 24 August, to present a bill on the clawback tax next week and complete the C2 list of generic drugs, after which the Government will allot the ministry EUR35 M from the reserve fund, Mediafax reported.

The Government must adopt the clawback tax bill and an order on the generic drugs, as per an agreement with the European Commission.

The clawback system was introduced in the fall of 2009 and required all drug producers selling on the Romanian market to contribute quarterly to the public healthcare system by 5%-11% of their revenue from the sale of products used by the national healthcare programs, included on the list of discounted/free medicine, or used in hospitals.

The Association of Romanian Producers of Generic Drugs has stated that the clawback tax is unfair, inefficient and ineffective.

Jeffrey Franks, head of the IMF agreement evaluation mission, has said the clawback tax should be replaced with a different taxation system.

Serbia

Serbia’s President Tadic “A Choice between EU and Kosovo Is Wrong”

Serbian President Boris Tadic has stated that Serbia is under no false impression that it can bring in a new conflict into the EU, but that it would be wrong to give the country an ultimatum to choose between the EU and Kosovo, Tanjyg reported.

“I believe that the “Kosovo or the EU” policy is a wrong policy of ultimatums, which is not in keeping with the European values and thus should be avoided. Sustainable solutions can be found, the Balkans can be “unbalkanized”, and a conflict-free approach is possible to the benefit of both the Balkans and the EU,” Serbia President Tadic said on 24 August.

“Serbia does not recognize Kosovo and it is searching for a compromise solution,” the President of Serbia emphasized.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel stated a day earlier following the talks with Serbian President Boris Tadic that Germany wants Serbia to become an EU member state.

Turkey

AKP “Foreign Intelligence May Be Involved in Illegal Recording of a Top Military”

Ankara, Days after Turkey’s counter-strike against PKK, an illegal tape provoked a scandal among the Turkish army elite and government officials.

“Foreign intelligence organizations may be behind the release of a voice recording allegedly containing a former top general’s criticism over the weaknesses of the army in the fight against terrorism,” Turkish ruling the Justice and Development Partyр AKP, commented on 24 August.

“What we can say is that this was not done by institutions based in Turkey. It is not possible for the Turkish Armed Forces, the gendarmerie, the police or the National Intelligence Organization [MİT] to do such a thing,” Nurettin Canikli, deputy parliamentary group leader of AKP is quoted as saying by Hurryiet Daily. “It is not possible for illegal recordings to take place in formal institutions. Anyone can conduct such recordings, including hundreds of intelligence organizations outside of Turkey,” Canikli said.

A man believed to be former Chief of General Staff Gen. Işık Koşaner was recorded as pointing out very bluntly the military’s deficiencies in the chain of command and control, also indicating causes for the defeat of the army in the fight against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK. There was no statement from either Koşaner or the General Staff as while Hilmi Özkök, former top commander of the army, refused to comment on the illegal recording. “It is undetermined whether or not the voice belongs to Koşaner, but it is clear the recording was obtained and released illegally,” he said.

Canikli emphasized, however, that if the words indeed belonged to Koşaner, they prove the utility of the government’s move to adopt a new strategy in the fight against terror, referring to the employment of professional soldiers in addition to the armed forces and police.

Addressing the comments on the recording about soldiers dropping weapons and fleeing conflict, Canikli said Turkish soldiers were heroes and a few instances should not lead to general conclusions about the entire armed forces.

Turkey’s opposition parties meanwhile strongly criticized the government for the release of the voice recordings allegedly belonging to Gen. Koşaner. “The responsibility for the illegal taping belongs to the government,” Nationalist Movement Party, or MHP, group deputy Chairman Mehmet Şandır told reporters on 24 August.

Turkey’s New Anti-Terrorism Strategy: Fast Arms Procurement Procedures and Mobilisation of Professional Soldiers

Ankara, Turkey’s new strategy to fight the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, likely will require a faster-than-usual weapons procurement mechanism for systems required in the country’s anti-terror warfare, Hurriyet Daily writes. The new plan discussed at a recent meeting of the  Turkish National Security Board, or MGK, envisages both military and non-military means to fight the PKK’s terrorism, which has taken over 40,000 lives since 1984.

“Fighting terrorism is our number-one priority. And there is an understanding [at the MGK] that the equipment essential for our anti-terror war should be procured immediately, through off-the-shelf purchases if necessary,” said one procurement official. The official said priority purchases as part of this understanding may include systems like unmanned aerial vehicles.

The first 60 T-129 attack helicopters jointly manufactured by Italy’s AgustaWestland and Turkish Aerospace Industries, or TAI, are scheduled to be delivered toward the end of next year. The first nine of those choppers are designated as an urgent purchase. The whole 60 helicopters will cost billions of dollars.

Also as an indication of the new strategy, Turkey will soon be deploying in the southeast more Kirpi mine-resistant, ambush-protected, or MRAP, armored vehicles built by BMC, a Turkish manufacturer. Presently the Turkish military operates around 500 Kirpis.

The new anti-terror strategy implies that off-the-shelf procurement can be resumed at least in selected equipment and systems.

The new strategy called for an immediate mobilization of thousands of professional soldiers and security personnel into the combat zone.

BALKANS ECONOMY

Albania

Albania’s Trade Deficit Drops in July

Tirana, Albania’s trade deficit lowered slightly in July as compared with that of the previous month, while both imports and exports in the tiny western Balkan country rose, figures from the country’s Institute of Statistics showed on 24 August.

Albania’s exports rose to 17,827 million leks (around 184 million U.S. dollars) in July, an increase of 7.7 percent compared to June and 32.4 percent compared to July a year ago, while imports increased to 47,773 million leks, or 2.4 percent up on June and 7.4 percent compared to July last year, the institute said.

“This month the trade deficit is 29,946 million leks, marking a decrease of 0.4 percent compared with June 2011 and showing a decrease of 3.5 percent compared with July 2010,” the institute said in its monthly report.

Trade with the European Union (EU) , of which Albania wants to become a member, stood at 69.1 percent of the total, with Italy and Greece remaining its two biggest trade partners.

“Our exports to Austria, Italy, Kosovo, Macedonia, Spain and others have increased, while we increased our imports from Greece, Italy, Kosovo, Macedonia, USA and others,” the institute added.

Compared with the previous months, the figures showed that exports of minerals, fuels and electricity increased 30.3 percent, and textile and footwear also rose 13.3 percent. Wood and paper exports rose 6.7 while leather exports fell 24.5 percent.

Bulgaria

Sofia Airport to Manage the New Balchik Black Sea Airport

Sofia, Bulgaria’s Cabinet has assigned the management of the future civilian airport at the Black Sea town of Balchik to Sofia International Airport, Novinite.com wrote.

“Sofia Airport, whose parent organization is the Ministry of Transport, IT and Communications, has sufficient management experience that will guarantee the execution of the project [for Balchik Airport],” the Bulgarian government said in a press release dated 24 August. In June and July 2011, the Borisov Cabinet moved to turn the inactive military airport near Balchik into a third international airport on Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast along Varna Airport and Burgas Airport.

The Balchik Airport runway is located 800 m east of the Levski Quarter of the town of Balchik, on a plot of 460 hectares; it is 60 m wide and 2 500 m long, and could be extended north by 3 500 m.

The Bulgarian government expects that the future Balchik Airport will take up about one-third of the flights that are currently served by Varna Airport, located 40 km to the south. During the busy summer tourist season the high number of foreign tourists flying in create a complex transport situation in the city of Varna, since Varna Airport is right next to Varna’s major boulevard and the entrance of the Hemus Highway linking it to Sofia. Thus, all passengers arriving at Varna Airport have to go through the city center in order to reach the resorts located north of it – Golden Sands, Albena, Kranevo, Balchik.

In early July 2011, Bulgaria’s Cabinet decided it would invest EUR 15 M in the reconstruction of the military airport near the Black Sea resort of Balchik in order to transform it into a civilian airport, with Prime Minister Boyko Borisov directly ordering the Finance Ministry to allocate the money. Borisov’s rationale is that the reconstruction will be the fastest way to make Balchik Airport fit for being granted on a concession.

Croatia

HPB Offers Housing Loans Denominated in Croatian Kuna

Zagreb, The Hrvatska Postanska Banka (HPB) has decided to offer a new product to clients: housing loans denominated in the national currency kuna and not indexed to any foreign currency. The bank has made this decision following its improving business results and financial indicators.

Interest rates on the kuna-pegged housing loans will be higher by a half percentage point compared with interest rates on housing loans the payment of which is linked to foreign currencies, the HPB said on 23 August. This Croatian bank recalls that it was among the first financial institutions in Croatia to cut interest rates on housing loans pegged to the euro at the beginning of this year. This reduction was provided for certain categories of borrowers.
The HPB said that it had never provided its clients with housing loans indexed to the Swiss franc.

The recent steady appreciation Swiss franc created a massive panic among Croats who have borrowed loans pegged to the Swiss currency.

The Croatian national currency on Tuesday strengthened against the Swiss franc by 0.44%, but weakened against the euro by 0.10%, according to the Croatian National Bank’s mean exchange rate, applicable on 24 Аugust. The new Swiss franc mean exchange rate is 6.555127. The euro mean exchange rate is 7.476122 kuna.

Cyprus

Cyprus Discusses a Second Austerity Package

Nicosia, Cyprus Finance Minister Kikis Kazamias on 24 August  promised a parliamentary committee to prepare a second austerity package in an effort to win opposition support for the first one. The Cypriot government on 10 August approved an austerity package plan to shore up the island’s flagging economy and ward off bailout by the European Union (EU).

Kazamias detailed before the Finance Committee of Parliament his second package, prompting opposition parties to accuse the government of failing to grasp the tragic economic situation of the island. The opposition parties said the information Kazamias presented was too vague and he promised to come back on Thursday with a written detailed memorandum on the second package.

Parliament, which was scheduled to convene in an emergency meeting on 24 August to debate his first economic package, put off the debate until 25 August.

The first austerity package proposed a two-point increase in VAT to 17 percent, a permanent 3 percent contribution by public sector employees and officials, including the president and the ministers, an increase on high-end income tax scales and an increase on corporate taxation, including a levy of EUR 350 (US$574) on every registered company.

The finance minister said his measures would help collect EUR 750 M until the end of 2012 and help bring the public deficit down to 2.5 percent from a projected 7.5 percent level at the end of the year.

However, the opposition parties said the emphasis of the package was on taxation rather than on structural reforms that would help reduce public spending.

Kazamias promised that his second package would include a 10 percent reduction on the salary scales of new public sector employees, filling only one in every four posts being vacated by retirement, abolition of 1,500 already vacated posts, reduction of public service posts by 5,000 over the next five years, a reduction in overtime pay by 20 percent and a freeze on pension increase.

He also said development spending would be cut back but an effort would be made to fully implement the development budget and promote new investment.

Macedonia

Macedonia Sets Up a Tourism Committee

Skopje, On 24 August the Macedonian Government set up a new body – the Committee on Tourism, which is expected to bolster the participation of this economic branch in the GDP.

The new body is in charge of timely implementation of the Strategy for the Development of Tourism and projects of the Government Program related to this sphere, MIA reported. It will review the measures and projects for improving the infrastructure and promote Macedonia as an attractive tourist destination.

The establishing of this body demonstrates the Government’s permanent commitment for developing the sector of tourism, also reaffirmed by the decision for cutting the value-added tax for tourist services, Vice-Premier Vladimir Pesevski said.

Romania

Romania to Sell Tarom Airline on Bucharest Stock Exchange

Bucharest, Romania’s Government  approved the sale of 20% of national airline Tarom’s shares on the Bucharest Stock Exchange on 24 August, as per the state’s commitments to the International Monetary Fund and European Commission.

The Government issued a Decision approving Tarom SA’s privatization strategy, Mediafax reported. The Transport Ministry is in charge of the strategy’s implementation and the sale of stake through an initial public offering in the Bucharest Stock Exchange. According to the Government’s press office, the time of the sale will be decided by the Executive.

Serbia

Serbia: Tight Fiscal Police and Spending Cuts

Belgrade, The talks between Serbian Prime Minister Mirko Cvetkovic and representatives of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), held this week, concluded that it is necessary to stick to fiscal rules, implement spending cuts at all levels of government, and continue reforms aimed at improvement of investment climate in Serbia in the upcoming period.

The PM stated that a precautionary agreement with the IMF is very important since it enables Serbia to make drawings should the need arise, and in the manner assures all foreign investors that the country is implementing a credible economic policy.

The meeting between Cvetkovic and the IMF mission, headed by Albert Jaeger, discussed the macroeconomic trends by the end of the year, and the PM announced that an adjustment and increase in salaries and pensions will take place in October as envisaged by the law.

The IMF mission will continue the talks with representatives of the Ministry of Finance on the budget revision planned for September, and determine the budget framework for 2012, the Serbian government’s press office stated.

Serbian Deputy Prime Minister for Economic and Regional Development Verica Kalanovic and the delegation of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) reached an agreement on the need to improve control of infrastructure projects management in Serbia at all levels.

Better control in the management of infrastructure projects can be achieved on the one hand by controlling the spending of invested funds, and on the other hand by measuring the effects of completed infrastructure projects on the further development of the country, a statement issued after the meeting reads.

Turkey

Turkey’s Deputy PM Advises on Tight-Fisted Spending

Ankara, “The global economic crisis will certainly affect Turkey in the short term,” Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan said on 24 August, in a comment over Turkey’s measures to safeguard itself from the global crisis’ repercussions.

“If there is an earthquake next door, Turkey will also sway. But we are working hard so that the house is not destroyed,” Babacan said in an interview with CNNTürk.

The deputy prime minister also called on Turkish people to not increase their debts but rather spend no more than they earn. Noting that the picture of the global economy had changed radically over the past one or two months, Babacan said the government would account for a recession risk in its policies.  The country’s ratio of domestic savings to national income is expected to fall to 12 percent, Babacan said. “It is crucial that we avoid unnecessary and luxury expenditures, but people will surely afford their everyday needs,” he said, adding that people should not fear that things will worsen in Turkey and start preparing for a “bad day.”

House sales in Turkey, meanwhile, increased 18.8 % in the second quarter of 2011, compared with the same period a year earlier, data published by the Turkish Statistical Institute, or TurkStat, revealed on 24 August. A total of 107,308 homes were sold in the second quarter of the year and home sales increased in all parts of Turkey, the data said.

(Mariela Zamfirova, MBA; 25 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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