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Friday, 26 August 2011
Politics and others:
- Albanian Miners’s Talks with ACR in a Deadlock
- Fire in Pishe Poro, Albania Spread by the Winds
- Bulgaria – Serbia Carry out Joint Anti-Aircraft Artillery Drills in N Bulgarian Town of Shabla
- Bulgaria’s GERB Government Hardly Kept Ten Percent of Its Promises
Bosnia and Herzegovina
- Serbia will ask UN SC to condemn use of force
- Serbs in Croatia Protest the Messages of the Croatian PM Sent to her Kosovo Counterpart Hashim Thaci
- Greece’s Deputy Regional Development Minister Haris Paboukis Resigns – Papandreou Loses a Close Ally
- EC Reminds Montenegrin to Pass its Election Law by 1 September
- Labor Ministry Suggests Shorter Day Work Hours Due to High Temperatures
- Serbian Defense Minister Dismisses Rumors on Gaddafi Finding Asylum in Serbia
- Serbian President Boris Tadić: “Serbia Can’t Abolish its Institutions in Kosovo,”
- German Analyst “Compromise between Serbia, Kosovo and EU Is Possible”
- Bosnian Serb Maldic Back in Court after a Hernia Operation
- Turkish Government “Under Fire” for Sending Cash to Libya’s National Transitional Council
- The Scandal with Turkish Top Military’s Voice Recording Continues
- Baghdad Demands Turkey to Stop Raids in N Iraq
- ALBtelecom and Motorola Seal an Agreement on Broadband Internet Access
- Croatia’S GDP Rose by 0.8% in Q2 2011
- Atomexportstroy’s Project a Fantasy, including Bulgarian Belene Nuclear Power Plant according to a Wikileaked Cable of US Ambassador John Bearle
- Greece’s Bailout Package Jeopardized by the Athens – Helsinki Deal
- Greece Reports Drop in Tourism for Q1 2011
- Germany Promises an Investment Offensive in Greece
- Macedonia Sets Up an Entrepreneurship & Innovations Committee
- Bucharest, Romanian Government Considers Reducing VAT on Food in Tourism Industry to 9% – Mediafax
- Romania’s Deficit in July Stays at 2.09% of GDP
- Average Pay in Serbia Drops to EUR 384
BALKANS – POLITICS & OTHER
Albanian Miners’s Talks with ACR in a Deadlock
Tirana, Miners of Bulqiza has gathered on 25 August along with their relatives and compatriots in front of the offices of the Austrian company “ACR”, ATA reported. At the end of protest on the previous day, the miners of Bulqiza threatened the company “ACR” that they will resume hunger strike if their demands are not meet by 14:00, 25 August. Head of the Confederation of Trade Unions Kol Nikollaj met with the Minister of Labor Spiro Ksera to tell him about the situation in Bulqiza. As previously reported the Albanian miners demand safety working conditions, pension benefits and 40 increase in payment as well as management replacement. So far none of the conditions have been fulfilled.
Fire in Pishe Poro, Albania Spread by the Winds
Tirana, The wildfire that has been raging since 24 August along the low area of Pishe Poro in the commune of Novosele, around 25 km from the southern coastal city of Vlora, has intensified on 25 August. Strong winds have helped flames to rapidly spread in an area of 150 hectares, including pine groves in the area. Firefighters are working around the clock to isolate and extinguish the blaze. Fire brigades and emergency teams are working to prevent flames from further spreading by digging canals and building earth walls to isolate the blaze. Civil emergency structures are helping the firefighters to control the flames.
Bulgaria – Serbia Carry out Joint Anti-Aircraft Artillery Drills in N Bulgarian Town of Shabla
Shabla, Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov and Serbian President Boris Tadic will attend together the joint anti-aircraft artillery (AAA) drills of the Bulgarian and Serbian armed forces in Shabla on 26 August, Sofia Press Agency reported.
Borisov and Tadic will attend the last day of the Bulgarian-Serbian AAA drills on the firing ground near the Black Sea town of Shabla, which have been carried out in the period 24-26 August, 2011. Bulgarian Defense Minister Anyu Angelov and his Serbian counterpart Dragan Sutanovac will also see the joint anti-aircraft military training that takes place for a second year in a row – after it started in 2011.
The drills feature units from the Bulgarian Air Force, the Bulgarian Navy, the Bulgarian Army and the Bulgarian Border Police as well as an AAA brigade from the Serbian Air Force.
The weapons used and tested in the AAA drills included MiG-29 and Su-25 fighter jets and anti-aircraft surface-to-air missile complexes SA-2 Volhov, SA-3 Neva, SA-6 Kub, SA-8 Osa, SA-7 Strela 2M.
Bulgaria’s GERB Government Hardly Kept Ten Percent of Its Promises
Sofia, Bulgaria’s Prime Minister Boyko Borisov and his cabinet have made a total of 400 promises over the past year and have partially or entirely fulfilled some 10% of them, a NGO report says, cited by Novinite.com.
Some 30% of the promises made are in the process of being fulfilled, while 60% have not been fulfilled, according to Politikat.net, a site dedicated to monitoring the Bulgarian politicians’ activity.
Borisov has topped the list of most promises made per cabinet member, according to a representative of the Civil Initiative for Decreasing the Political Hypocricy, which created the website a year ago.
A total of 184 promises have been registered as made by the Bulgarian Prime Minister over the last year, of which 13 have been fulfilled partially or entirely, the representative has revealed during a press conference, according to the Bulgarian Telegraph Agency.
“No development” has been seen by the authors of the project on a further 71 of Borisov’s promises, while 30 have been classified as “unfulfilled”.
Bosnia and Herzegovina .
Serbia will ask UN SC to Condemn Use of Force
Banja Luka, Serbia will ask the UN Security Council on 29 August to condemn the unilateral use of force by the Kosovo Albanian authorities in northern, Serb areas of Kosovo.
This is according to Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremić, who spoke in Banja Luka, Serb Republic (RS), on 25 August.
“What happened in July in Kosovo was caused by the fact someone wished to send special forces to the north of Kosovo, and everything that happened afterwards was a consequence of that decision,” Jeremić said after his meeting with the president of the Serb Republic (RS) entity in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Milorad Dodik.
Dodik told reporters that the issue of Kosovo was at this time the key question in the region, and that the RS would “in this context follow the position of Serbia”.
He noted that the Serb Republic would not give agreement for Bosnia to recognize Kosovo.
“Bearing in mind the role of Bosnia-Herzegovina as the (non-permanent) member of the UN Security Council, we will try to arrive at a unified position on the level of Bosnia on this issue, especially having in mind the unilateral use of force by the so-called authorities of Kosovo, in the events that caused this latest crisis,” said Dodik.
Jeremić said that he informed Dodik about the stances presented by German Chancellor Angela Merkel during her visit to Belgrade earlier this week, and added that those were “important messages that will have strategic consequences on the situation in the Western Balkans”.
Serbs in Croatia Protest the Messages of the Croatian PM Sent to her Kosovo Counterpart Hashim Thaci
Zagreb, The Serb People’s Council (SNV), an umbrella organisation of ethnic Croatian Serbs, has expressed its concern at and disagreement with messages made by Croatian Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor during her visit to Kosovo, criticising her statements of support to a policy of unilateral moves and calling for dialogue and negotiations to solve problems, tPortal reports.
„Although we understand that a status quo policy is not good and sustainable, we also hold that a policy of unilateral and forcible establishment of territorial integrity and sovereignty cannot and must not be an alternative to dialogue and negotiations,” reads a press release issued by the SNV on 25 August and signed by its president Milorad Pupovac.
”Such policy can renew conflicts, deepen distrust and cause casualties, suffering and serious violations of human and minority rights,” the SNV said adding that it opposes to messages which hint at the pursuing of such a policy and which were heard during the meeting of the prime ministers of Croatia and Kosovo, Jadranka Kosor and Hashim Thaci.
Greece’s Deputy Regional Development Minister Haris Paboukis Resigns – Papandreou Loses a Close Ally
Athens, Prime Minister George Papandreou was dealt a blow on 25 August when Deputy Regional Development Minister Haris Paboukis, who has been a close political associate of the Premier’s for 15 years, quit the government and cast doubt on the policies it is following, Kathimerini reports.
Paboukis sent Papandreou his resignation letter after apparently failing to convince the prime minister that he should reform the Merchant Marine Ministry as an independent government department with authority over the coast guard.
“For two months I have tried to re-establish a sector vital to the nation,” Paboukis said in his letter.
He argued that shipping, which accounts for about a fifth of the Greek economy, has a vital role to play in encouraging growth and should, therefore, be overseen by a separate ministry.
EC Reminds Montenegrin to Pass its Election Law by 1 September
Podgorica, It is time for the Montenegrin Parliament to adopt the election law, the European Commission stated on 23 August, adding that it is vital that the law be passed in early September, Mina reported. EC spokesperson John Clancy reiterated that the deadline for the drafting of Montenegro’s progress report is 1 September, after which only exceptional developments will be taken into consideration.
Labor Ministry Suggests Shorter Day Work Hours Due to High Temperatures
Podgorica, Podgorica, The Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare said that the workers should have shorter hours during periods of high temperatures, adding that the work should be organized in the evening hours where possible. Work at the temperatures above 40C is not regulated by law either neighbouring countries or in the European Union, and most of the countries come out only with recommendations, the Ministry said cited by Mina.
Serbian Defense Minister Dismisses Rumors on Gaddafi Finding Asylum in Serbia
Belgrade, “There is no possibility for Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi to seek political asylum in Serbia,” Defense Minister Dragan Šutanovac has said, as quoted by B92.
He commented on reports in Croatian media today that cited a member of the leadership of Libya’s rebels as saying that Gaddafi might seek asylum in “Chad, Algeria, Venezuela, Serbia or Croatia”.
“A large amount of disinformation is coming out of Libya at the moment,” Šutanovac noted.
Reacting to another report that quoted the rebels – that said five Serbian citizens, allegedly “snipers”, were captured near Tripoli – Šutanovac said he did not know who those citizens were, and added that there were no members of Serbia’s security forces in the north African country.
Serbian President Boris Tadić: “Serbia Can’t Abolish its Institutions in Kosovo,”
Belgrade„The demand for Serbia to abandon its institutions in Serb areas of Kosovo, described as “parallel”, is not acceptable,” Serbian President Boris Tadić says.
The demand was heard from visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel earlier this week, and was made in the context of Serbia’s further EU integration.
In the first part of an interview given to Tanjug news agency on 25 August in Belgrade – with the second part due to be published on 26 August – Tadić said that “there is a possibility” that the country may not be granted the status of candidate for EU membership this year, and that the same applied when it came to determining the start of accession negotiations.
But he noted that “Serbia cannot accept the demand to abolish its institutions in the north of Kosovo and Metohija”.
German Analyst “Compromise between Serbia, Kosovo and EU Is Possible”
Belgrade, German analyst Franz Lothar Altmann has stated that Kosovo is the final obstacle in Serbia’s path to EU membership, adding that a compromise between Belgrade, Pristina and the EU is possible and would result in a form of regional Serb administration in northern Kosovo. Commenting on German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s recent visit to Belgrade, Altmann told Tanjug that the conditions she had stated were a response to Belgrade’s expectaions of getting the EU candidate status and the start date for the accession talks by the end of the year.
“Merkel sent a clear message. She said in Zagreb that Croatia proved the Western Balkans had a future in the EU, while in Belgrade she remarked that Serbia had to settle the Kosovo issue, because Croatia’s accession would not mean the EU doors are open,” Altmann added.
He expects Serbia to get the candidate status by the end of the year, but that it will have to do away with the parallel institutions in Kosovo first.
“A compromise between Belgrade, Pristina and the EU is possible by creating a form of regional autonomy for the Serbs in Kosovo,” Altmann pointed out.
A municipal autonomy was part of the Martti Ahtisaari’s plan for Kosovo and it should be expanded to a regional autonomy, he believes.
Bosnian Serb Mladic Back in Court after a Hernia Operation
Belgrade/Hague, Bosnian Serb war crime suspect Ratko Mladic appeared in court at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) for the status conference hearing on 25 August.This time the Bosnian Serb army commander stayed calm during the entire conference whose sole purpose was to serve as preparation for the trial and set deadlines for pre-trial procedures.
The first trial would deal with the charges related to the 1995 massacre in Srebrenica and the next one would deal with all of the other charges, such as the crimes during the siege of Sarajevo. Judge Orie told the defense that they have to give a written response to the motion by 31 August. After that the chamber will decide whether to split the trial.
Mladic is charged with genocide, crimes against humanity and violation of the laws or customs of war during the 1992 to 1995 conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina. He was captured on 26 May in Serbia and was moved to the UN Detention Unit in The Hague on 31 May. Mladic, who reportedly underwent a hernia operation last week, requested for a private session to explain his health situation.
The next status conference in Mladic’s case is scheduled for 6 October.
Turkish Government “Under Fire” for Sending Cash to Libya’s National Transitional Council
Ankara, Opposition parties have strongly criticized the AKP government for funds allocated to Libya’s National Transitional Council (NTC), questioning the legitimacy of helping the Benghazi-based opposition administration while also questioning the appropriateness of the way these funds have been conveyed to Libyans. Turkish government officials, speaking with Today’s Zaman on 25 August, however, dismissed the criticism, underlining that all of the operations involving the funds allocated to Libya’s NTC were properly recorded using transparent methods.
During a visit to Benghazi by Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu on 23 August, Mustafa Abdul Jalil, head of the NTC said the council would have been unable to pay salaries if it had not received the cash handouts from Turkey. “The Turkish government has overcome bureaucracy and transferred the funds they had promised the Libyan people in cash and directly. It’s a new method for transferring money called the Turkish method,” said Abdul Jalil.
Although the Turkish capital had already announced a US$300 M aid package, which includes US$100 M in cash, another US$100 M as “a gift” and humanitarian projects valued at US$100 M, back in July, the issue was portrayed in the Turkish media as if it was a newly announced aid package following Jalil’s remarks.
The Scandal with Turkish Top Military’s Voice Recording Continues
Ankara, Following the emergence of a voice recording allegedly featuring the voice of former chief of General Staff Gen. Işık Koşaner, in which the former military chief confessed several shortcomings of the Turkish military in its fight against terror, Koşaner admits in a second voice recording published online on 25 August that the military did violate laws, Turkey’s Zaman reported.
Koşaner allegedly confesses in the recording that the Turkish military transgressed the law on many issues, but that “some betrayers” within the military revealed these illegal actions. Addressing a group of military officers, the voice in the recording refers to him as “I, Işık Koşaner,” which may indicate that the voice indeed belongs to the former military chief. Koşaner has not denied the two recordings so far.
The Ruling AKP hinted on 25 August that foreign intelligence might have been involved in the illegal taping scandal.
Baghdad Demands Turkey to Stop Raids in N Iraq
Baghdad/Ankara, Iraq summoned Turkey’s ambassador to Baghdad to demand an immediate halt to air strikes along its northern border, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said on 25 August. Turkey launched a series of attacks on the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) terrorists in northern Iraq. Iraqi authorities stated that a Turkish air strike killed seven Iraqi civilians on 21 August.
“Yesterday the Turkish ambassador was summoned here to the foreign ministry. He was handed a … protest, diplomatic note about the continued bombing,” Zebari told Reuters in an interview. “We demanded an immediate stop to these air strikes.”
The Turkish military said on Tuesday it had killed up to 100 terrorists in six days of air strikes in response to an escalation of PKK attacks after the collapse of efforts to negotiate a settlement of the 27-year-old conflict, Zaman wrote.
Meanwhile, Hurryiet Daily reported that 15 soldiers were injured in a landmine attack in SE Turkey on 25 August. Suspected members of the PKK detonated explosives next to a convoy carrying troops in the province of Hakkari in southeast Turkey.
ALBtelecom and Motorola Seal an Agreement on Broadband Internet Access
Tirana, The Turkish-owned ALBtelecom, Albania’s fixed-phone monopoly, and U.S. Motorola signed a cooperation deal to supply and install Motorola technology to offer broadband internet access all over Albania, ALBtelecom said on 25 August.
ALBtelecom and Motorola, through the Verso company, have signed the cooperation deal for the supply and installation of Motorola Canopy Fixed Wireless Broadband Access technology to extend internet coverage even in the deepest areas of Albania where its service was unavailable. They did not say how much the deal was worth.
“By this project, any household or any business will be able to enjoy the benefits of internet with a good quality, no matter where in Albania. The project will serve also to the education system of Albania as it will increase the quality of internet service in the schools of pre-university system in deep mountain regions,” ALBtelecom said in a statement.
The project is already being implemented and until now as many as 350 villages, totalling a population of 420,000, are already covered with Albtelecom’s internet service by Motorola Canopy Solutions. In just a few months, more than 1300 villages in Albania will have full access to high quality of internet, even in remote mountains where there are no fiber optics.
Croatia’S GDP Rose by 0.8% in Q2 2011
Zagreb, “In the second quarter of 2011, Croatia’s GDP increased by 0.8 percent as against the same period of last year,” Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor said at a government session on 25 August, tPortal reports.
“After months of declining GDP we are finally recording growth. It is modest, but it signals that we are heading in the direction we have announced for this year,” Kosor said.
Croatia’s GDP growth in the second quarter is similar to that of Italy, Great Britain’s GDP growth is 0.7 percent, Romania’s 0.3 percent, France’s 1.6 percent, and Hungary’s 1.2 percent, the PM said.
Atomexportstroy’s Project a Fantasy, including Bulgarian Belene Nuclear Power Plant according to a Wikileaked Cable of US Ambassador John Bearle
Sofia, Russia’s state nuclear company Atomstroyexport or ASE– which is technically supposed to build Bulgaria’s Belene NPP – is facing severe shortages, according to a freshly leaked diplomatic cable of the US ambassador in Moscow. The cable by John Beyrle, US Ambassador to Russia who was the US Ambassador to Bulgaria before going to Moscow, dated April 3, 2009, was released on 25 August by WikiLeaks and their Bulgarian partner Bivol.bg.
It is entitled “Russia’s Atomstroyexport Cannot Fulfill Existing International Nuclear Energy Contracts, But Seeks New Ones.”
“Еven without the crunch the financial crisis could put on GOR loans, the lack of sufficient nuclear industry infrastructure and trained specialists will make it hard for ASE to fulfill existing contracts on time. It is extremely unlikely that ASE will be able to complete many of the nuclear power plants in contracts it is currently negotiating within the timeframes being discussed. Even so, ASE continues to seek still more new contracts. As Nigmatulin [First Deputy Director General of the Institute of Natural Monopolies] declared bluntly, “these plans are a fantasy,” the US Ambassador to Moscow concludes.
Full text of the cable: http://novinite.com/view_news.php?id=131485
Greece’s Bailout Package Jeopardized by the Athens – Helsinki Deal
Athens, The issue of Finland’s demand from Greece for collateral in order to participate in the new bailout package for Athens will be the focus of 26 August’s video conference of the eurozone’s finance ministers, as the International Monetary Fund plans its next loan tranche to Greece for end-September, Kathimerini writes. The eurozone meeting comes as Finland’s insistence on obtaining guarantees has led markets to increasingly dispute the bloc’s ability to resolve its problems, with Bloomberg reporting on 25 August that any collaterals given to Finland or any other country would likely lead Greece to default. That had seemingly been avoided after the 21 July agreement for the second bailout, but it has resurfaced now.
German newspaper Handelsblatt wrote on 25 August that Brussels will reject the deal between Athens and Helsinki on collateral, and that German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble made it clear to government deputies that the option of Finland securing guarantees was not on the negotiating table.
IMF spokesman David Hawley stated on 25 August that “the Fund’s executive board could be in position to consider approval of the next disbursement toward the end of September.” He added that once the IMF’s mission to Athens completes its review around September 5 and “assuming agreements are in place,” the sixth tranche of the first bailout package would be disbursed at the end of next month. He also said that Eurobonds could contribute to resolving the debt crisis in the eurozone.
Greece Reports Drop in Tourism for H1 2011
Athens, The financial crisis has taken a toll on domestic tourism as the number of arrivals from flights within Greece dropped by 11.6 percent in the January-to-July period this year compared to 2010, Kathimerini writes.Arrivals amounted to 3.26 million in the year to July against 3.69 million last year, vindicating estimates for a significant decline in domestic tourism. Sector professionals estimate the drop this year to amount to 20 percent from last year. Notably, the decline was only at 1 percent in July, from July 2010.
As far as foreign arrivals are concerned, in the year’s first seven months they grew by 8.3 percent from last year, reaching 7.86 million against 7.25 million in 2010. An even greater growth, of 13 percent year-on-year, was recorded in arrivals by charter flights.
Germany Promises an Investment Offensive in Greece
Athens, Athens and Berlin will work closer to bolster German investment in Greece, Greek Development Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis (right) and German Deputy Minister of Economics and Technology Stefan Kapferer agreed on 25 August in Athens.
‘Germany has launched an investment offensive in Greece,’ Kapferer said, quoted by Kathimerini.
Among the initiatives discussed was a boost in cash flow for banks and enterprises, sharing know-how on various levels and seeking investment opportunities in energy, shipping, food, refuse and infrastructure.
Macedonia Sets Up an Entrepreneurship & Innovations Committee
Skopje, The Macedonian Government set up a Committee on Entrepreneurship & Innovations on 25 August. The Committee’s task will be to improve the competitiveness of Macedonian economy, opening new jobs and bolstering the economic activities by developing the entrepreneurship spirit, particularly among young people.
The new body, chaired by Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski, brings together the Vice-Premiers for Financial, Economic Affairs, Zoran Stavreski and Vladimir Pesevski respectively, the Ministers of Economy, Health, Information Society & Public Administration, Education & Science, Foreign Investments, Deputy Ministers of Agriculture, Forestry & Water Management, as well as guests, representing the business and educational sectors. The Committee will also address the financial support and advancing of the regulations for developing SMEs, skills of entrepreneurs and their associating, doing business climate, companies-universities cooperation, research projects, new technologies…
Bucharest, Romanian Government Considers Reducing VAT on Food in Tourism Industry to 9% – Mediafax
Bucharest, Romania’s Tourism Minister Elena Udrea said on 25 August that the Government considers reducing to 9% the value added tax on foods served in tourism industry units. According to the minister, the measure is aimed to help investors in the sector and encourage them to build boardinghouses. Udrea said the VAT on foods served in tourism units will be reduced to 9% if the Finance Ministry data show such a move is feasible.
Romania’s Deficit in July Stays at 2.09% of GDP
Bucharest, Romania’s consolidated budget posted a deficit of EUR 2.68 B in July, equal to 2.09% of the gross domestic product, roughly the same as in June, Finance Ministry data showed on 25 July.
Average Pay in Serbia Drops to EUR 384
Belgrade, In Serbia, the average net earning in July equaled RSD 39,127 (EUR 384), which is a nominal drop of 0.5 percent in comparison to the pay in June, while in real terms it remained at the same level, the Statistical Office of the Republic of Serbia released on Thursday.
According to the year-on-year data, the average net earning in July increased by 13.1 percent in nominal, and by 0.9 percent in real terms. The average pay without taxes and contributions in the period from January to July is nominally up by 11 percent when compared to the same period of 2010, and down by 1.8 percent in real terms. The average earning with taxes and contributions equaled RSD 54, 164 (EUR 531) and compared to the average pay in June, dropped by 0.8 percent in nominal, and 0.3 percent in real terms.
(Mariela Zamfirova, MBA; 26 August 2011)