The Balkans Today: 11th - 15th July 2016
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The Balkans Today

Up to the minute news and updates from the Balkan region

The Balkans Today: 11th - 15th July 2016

Our team brings you live updates of the most important events and developments in the Balkans as they happen.

  • The top stories from the Balkans this morning:
    • The 21st anniversary commemorations of the Srebrenica massacres will see the burial of 127 more victims of the massacres that left more than 7,000 Bosniaks dead. Read more
    • International pressure on Macedonia's leaders to resolve the country's political crisis is continuing with a visit to Skopje by the US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, Victoria Nuland. Read more
    • Right-wing MPs and clerics in Albania are concerned that proposals to outlaw discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation will smooth the path towards legalisation of gay marriage. Read more
    • Deputy Prime Minister Dusko Markovic says Montenegro has provided all the conditions for voters to express their will freely, and to ensure the next election results are “undisputed.” To read the interview click here
  • Thousands of people gathered on Monday morning at the Srebrenica genocide memorial in the village of Potocari for the burial of 127 more Bosniaks who were killed after the town was seized by the Bosnian Serb Army in July 1995.

    Buses brought mourners from all over the country for the 21st anniversary commemoration of the massacres of more than 7,000 men and boys, with many of them coming from Tuzla, Kladanj, Sarajevo, Zenica, Zavidovici, Jajce and Zivnice, Sarajevo-based website Klix reported.

    The Bosnian Council of Ministers has declared July 11 as a day of mourning in the entire country and flags at state-level institutions have been lowered to half-mast.

    Photo: Anadolu. 

  • Montenegro's president Filip Vujanovic called a parliamentary election for October 16, as the ruling coalition seeks a fresh mandate for talks on joining the European Union.

    The Democratic Party of Socialists, DPS, the main party in the ruling coalition and the dominant force in Montenegro for more than two decades, says the government should have a clean slate for the talks.

    The current government was elected in December 2012. It comprises of the DPS, led by the veteran PM Milo Djukanovic and three ethnic minority parties. The junior ruling Socialdemocratic Party left the coalition in January.

    Filip Vujanovic. Photo:

  • Macedonia’s anti-government protesters will demonstrate against the growing national debt on Monday evening in Skopje as part of their ongoing so-called ‘Colourful Revolution’.

    The rally was inspired by last week’s government announcement that the state had issued €650 million in Eurobonds, which would increase the national debt.

    “Each Macedonian citizen already owes €2,200 and the regime wants to increase that debt by an additional €330 in a desperate attempt to continue its criminal rule. We won’t let it! We do not acknowledge the debts accrued by the spendthrifts!” said a statement announcing the protest.

    In the absence of precise official data, the protesters estimate that the country’s debt was already around €5 billion before the €650 million Eurobond issue.

    Macedonian anti-government protests. Photo by: Vanco Dzambaski

  • The leader of Bosnia’s Serb-led entity Republika Srpska said on the anniversary of the 1995 Srebrenica massacres he will never recognise that they constituted genocide, arguing that the number of victims has been exaggerated, regional television station N1 reported on Monday. 

    “We will not recognise the genocide. There was no genocide, we started with the false story of 8,700 victims, then the ICTY [International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia] reduced the number to 5,000, and now we are talking about 4,000,” said Republika Srpska’s President Milorad Dodik.

    “I’m sorry to say these things today. I don’t want to downplay anybody’s pain, but this has become just a political issue,” Dodik added.

    Milorad Dodik. Photo: Anadolu. 

  • Marking the 21st anniversary of the 1995 massacres, Al Jazeera reports on Srebrenica’s multi-ethnic FK Guber football club, which was re-established after the war in an attempt to promote reconciliation.

    “Some [of the players] have family members that were killed, others may have fathers that fought on the other side. That no longer divides them, they have truly become friends," says Srebrenica’s head imam, Damir Bektic.

    “FK Guber is a model for Srebrenica and gives hope for the future,” he adds.
  • Serbian opposition politician Cedomir Jovanovic, the leader of the Liberal Democratic Party, attend the anniversary commemoration of the Srebrenica massacres, telling the N1 television station that it was his “human obligation and political duty”.

    “What is necessary is [to adopt a clear stance] on what happened in Srebrenica ... until this happens, the people of Serbia will carry the burden of what happened here,” said Jovanovic, who was one of the MPs who tried last month to get the Serbian parliament to adopt a resolution condemning the Srebrenica genocide.

    Serbian political leaders who deny that the mass killings were genocide were not invited to attend the commemorations in Srebrenica.

    Cedomir Jovanovic. Photo: Wikicommons. 

  • Almost 60 per cent of Bulgarian citizens are not aware of their civil rights while 76 per cent have never read the constitution, according to a survey by the National Centre for Public Opinion Research, NCIOM, released on Monday. 

    The number of the people who know about their constitutional rights has dropped by seven per cent since 2012, when similar research was carried out by NCIOM last time.

    Photo: Esten Hurtle/Flickr 

  • Montenegro destroyed 1140 pieces of small arms and light weapons, SALW, at a smelter in the town of Niksic to mark the International Gun Destruction Day on 9 July, 2016, including 752 guns and one revolver, 7 automatic weapons, 381 rifles and 214 different part of weapons, the UNDP Europe's office said on Monday.

    The destruction of SALW is supported by the European Union, in the framework of the EU Strategy to Combat the Illicit Accumulation and Trafficking of SALW and their ammunition”, dated 9 December 2013.

    Last week, Kosovo also destroyed over 2382 pieces of SALW, including 888 short firearms and 1494 long firearms, also as part International Gun Destruction Day. The weapons were confiscated by the Kosovo Police during their crime investigation work.

    Photo: UNDP Europe/ Twitter.

  • The Obama administration said Monday that it had transferred two longtime detainees from the United States military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, to Serbia. 
    According to New York Times, both of the men transferred to Serbia were captured in late 2001 as part of the war in Afghanistan and were turned over to the United States military, which held them in indefinite wartime detention without trial for more than 14 years.
    One was Abdul Rahman Ahmed, a Yemeni who is either 36 or 37. In 2009, a six-agency detainee review task force recommended Mr. Ahmed for continued indefinite wartime detention, but a parole-like review board that periodically re-examines such detaineesdecided in October 2015 that his imprisonment was no longer necessary.

    In a public report, the review board said that while Mr. Ahmed was once “probably a low-level fighter who was aligned with Al Qaeda,” he had changed his mind-set in prison, become fluent in English, completed courses required for a high school equivalency degree, and had largely complied with prison rules since 2012.

    “The board found the detainee credible in his desire to pursue non-extremist goals and higher education as well as his embrace of Western culture,” it said.

    The other was Omar Hamzayavich Abdulayev, 37. A citizen of Tajikistan, he had been awaiting transfer since 2009, when the detainee review task force decided that he posed a low enough threat that he should be released to a secure country. He remained stranded because the administration decided he could not safely be repatriated.

    Reports by the task force explaining their assessments of detainees are secret.

  • Top stories from the Balkans this Tuesday:
    • Albanian public institutions still routinely refuse to supply information to the public despite a law on the right to information adopted in 2014, which requires them to do so in 10 days.

      Presenting a report on Monday, the Mjaft Movement - Mjaft means "enough" in Albanian - said that after asking various institutions at central and local level to give them information on different issues over the period of a year, they supplied the requisite information in only 42 per cent of the cases. Read more

    • Bulgaria's Prime Minister, on a visit to Iran, said Tehran had asked Bulgaria to join a new transport route running from the Persian Gulf to the Black Sea, bypassing Turkey. Read more.

    • The IVF sector is booming in Bosnia - despite the lack of relevant legislation and the persistence of prejudices that still deter couples from making use of their services. Read more.

  • An anti-government protest in the Macedonian capital Skopje intended to highlight the growing national debt saw a standoff with police on Monday evening.

    The police initially blocked the protesters’ way to the Finance Ministry where they planned to express their anger about last week’s government announcement that the state is issuing €650 million in Eurobonds.

    But after a standoff, protesters broke through the police cordon; one protester complained of sustaining minor injuries. The protesters then coloured the facade of the ministry with paint balls.

    Police retreats as protesters broke trough their cordon. Video by: Slobodna Makedonija
    by Slobodna Makedonija via YouTube

  • Samantha Power, the US ambassador to the United Nations, said in a statement on Facebook late Monday on the 21st anniversary of the Srebrenica massacres that “the collective failure that led to the genocide should haunt us all”.

    “Over two decades later, victims’ bodies are still being found; 127 more husbands, fathers, sons, and brothers were buried today, a chilling testament to the scale of the Srebrenica genocide,” said Power, who covered the Bosnian war while working as a journalist in the 1990s.

    Citing this year’s genocide conviction of former Bosnian Serb president Radovan Karadzic, Power said that brutal political leaders should understand that “their crimes will not be forgotten and one day they too will be held accountable for the horrors inflicted on innocent people”.
  • One of Europe's best known statues and a national treasure of Belgium, the Manneken Pis, will be dressed on Wednesday in Montenegin traditional costume ahead of Montenegro's National Day.

    The ceremony of marking the National Day - which is not till July 13th -  with the Manneken Pis dressed as a Montenegrin highlander, was organized by the Montenegrin embassy in Belgium.

    The custom-made outfit comprises a red embroided waistcoat, white coat, dark breeches and white leggings and a draped wrap.

    The Manneken Pis in Montenegin traditional clothing in July 2015. Photo:

  • Albania and Germany on Tuesday signed a two-year cooperation protocol, which will give Tirana 41.4 million euros to use for development projects. 

    The coastal city of Vlora seems to be the biggest beneficiary, as 19.5 million euros of the money will be used for its waste management system. 

    During her speech at the signing ceremony, the new German ambassador to Tirana, Susanne Schuetz, said since the end of communist rule, Germany has given Albania one billion euros in aid.

  • The communication and transport commission of the Bosnian parliament’s House of Representatives on Tuesday approved measures to reform the financing system for the public television system in Bosnia and Herzegovina – a move intended to save the country’s ailing public broadcaster BHRT.

    According to the draft legislation, the tax levied for the public television system will be included in electricity bills, a measure which should increase the revenues of all three major Bosnian public television stations.

    At the end of May, BHRT’s board announced that it would stop broadcasting if a stable financial system was not approved, although its initial deadline of June 30 was cancelled.

    The building of BHRT in Sarajevo. Photo: BiHVolim/Wikicommons

  • Bosnia's State Investigation and Protection Agency arrested three people on Tuesday for suspected involvement in terrorism, Bosnian media reported.

    The agency, which did not say where the arrests were made, also searched several buildings that were used by the three suspects.

    SIPA policemen. Photo: SIPA

  • Bulgaria and Iran have agreed to strengthen their cooperation in the energy sector with experts from the two countries exchanging experience on nuclear energy, the Bulgarian government’s press service announced on Tuesday.

    The news came after a meeting between Bulgarian Energy Minister Temenuzhka Petkova and Deputy PM Tomislav Donchev with Ali Akbar Salehi, who runs the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran. 

    Bulgaria is struggling to sell nuclear equipment, produced by Russia’s giant Atomstroyexport for the incomplete Belene power plant project, and Iran is one of the potential buyers. The government has not specified however whether any agreement has been reached on the issue.

    Several members of the Bulgarian cabinet, led by Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, are on a two-day visit to Tehran - the first at such a high level since 1988.
    Ministers Petkova and Donchev in Tehran. Photo: Press Service of the Bulgarian Government

  • #Albania Parl. Speaker Meta awards #Montenegro PM Đukanović National Flag Order, highest award given to foreigners

  • The main stories in the Balkans on Wednesday morning:
    • The latest report on the arms trade in Montenegro shows that the value of exports has risen significantly in recent years. Read more.
    • The build-up of refugees in Serbia caused by Hungary’s decision to close its border to stop illegal migrants is stretching humanitarian resources in Belgrade to breaking point, aid groups warn. Read more.
    • Former Croatian Serb leader rebel Goran Hadzic, whose war crimes trial had been halted because he was suffering from brain cancer, has died in Serbia, aged 57. Read more.
  • The European Bank for Reconstruction and development (EBRD) signed an agreement for a 65-million-euro loan with Bosnian Council of Ministers on Wednesday to repair and improve infrastructure networks and roads that were damaged during the catastrophic 2014 floods, Sarajevo-based website Klix reported.

    "This is an important project for both EBRD and Bosnia, which has been affected by severe floods in recent years. We are happy because we can participate in repairing and reconstructing the road infrastructure, so that we can ... improve the quality of the life of Bosnian citizens," Phil Bennet, the vice-president of the EBRD who signed the agreement, told Bosnian media.

    Phil Bennet (left) with Bosnian Minister of Finance Vjekoslav Bevanda on Wednesday. Photo: Anadolu

  • Bulgarians living abroad will be allowed to open 35 polling stations in any foreign country when elections are held, parliament decided on Wednesday.

    This was among the most controversial and contested parts of the revised electoral code - initially parliament approved a total ban on opening polling stations out of official diplomatic missions of Bulgaria abroad, which would have seriously limited the voting opportunities of the over two million Bulgarian emigrants around the world.

    The disputes over the electoral code revisions caused one of the ruling coalition partners, the left-wing Alternative for Bulgarian Revival, ABV, to leave the government in May.

    Bulgarians protesting the new voting rules in front of the National Assembly in Sofia. Photo: BIRN 

  • Former Croatian foreign minister Vesna Pusic, a candidate for the post of UN Secretary-General, received huge applause when she told the candidates’ debate on Tuesday evening in New York that women’s role in public institutions, including the UN, should be strengthened.

    "I am not only a woman, I am a feminist. The UN's 70 years dominated by the male view of the world, it is only 50 per cent of the experience of life, and now it's time for the other 50 per cent," Pusic said.

    Vesna Pusic. Photo: Flickr 

  • The National Assembly in Bosnia’s Serb-dominated entity Republika Srpska on Wednesday approved a fast-tracked law on the publication of the data from the 2013 census.

    According to the law, the Institute for Statistics of Republika Srpska will publish the results of the census within 30 days of the law entering into force, using its own chosen methodology.

    Republika Srpska has strongly opposed the methodology proposed by the State Statistical Agency of Bosnia and Herzegovina to prepare the census data, claiming that it would include people who are studying of working abroad in the total number of residents.

    The National Assembly of Republika Srpska. Photo: NSRS. 

  • An updated version of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement between the EU and Bosnia and Herzegovina will be approved soon, Milorad Dodik, the President of Republika Srpska, told a press conference on Wednesday, according to SRNA news agency.

    "I think we are going in the right way in order to sign and approve the updated SAA, and together with the government of Germany, we will approve measures which will contribute to reducing losses for our farmers," Dodik said after meeting German agriculture minister Christian Schmidt.

    Schmidt was visiting the country in order to help find a compromise to update the SAA, which is one of the key conditions imposed by the EU in order to grant membership candidate status to Bosnia and Herzegovina, local media reported.

    Milorad Dodik. Photo: Anadolu 

  • Human Rights Watch on Wednesday criticised Hungary for sometimes using “cruel and violent treatment” while sending migrants back into Serbia without considering their claims.

    “Hungary is breaking all the rules for asylum seekers transiting through Serbia, summarily dismissing claims and sending them back across the border,” said Lydia Gall of Human Rights Watch. 

    “People who cross into Hungary without permission, including women and children, have been viciously beaten and forced back across the border,” she added. Read more here.
  • Czech energy company CEZ has filed a request for international arbitration in its dispute with Bulgaria at the World Bank’s International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes on Tuesday, a statement on the company’s website said. 

    CEZ is claiming hundreds of millions of euros in compensation, accusing the Bulgarian authorities of damaging its operations in the country and causing a long-term critical situation on the local energy market. 

    The CEZ Group entered the Bulgarian market in 2004 and its distribution and sales operations serve some three million customers in the country.
  • The National Assembly in Bosnia's Serb-dominated entity Republika Srpska is to vote on Friday on a proposal from the ruling Alliance of Independent Social Democrats, SNSD and its government coalition partners on whether to hold a referendum on the entity’s national holiday.

    The proposed September 25 referendum would ask voters if they want to keep marking the Day of Republika Srpska each year on January 9.

    "We have agreed [on this proposal] and we have sent it to the assembly for approval... Now it's only a matter of procedure," SNSD party leader and RS President Milorad Dodik told SRNA news agency. 

    The Day of Republika Srpska, which is marked annually on January 9, has been declared unconstitutional and discriminatory by Bosnian Constitutional Court, a decision which angered Bosnian Serb parties.

    The National Assembly of Republika Srpska. Photo: NSRS 

  • The European Union foreign affairs department's deputy secretary-general Helga Schmid visited Tirana on Thursday to talk to Albanian political parties in a bid to find consensus over US and EU proposals on stalled judicial reform.

    "It is now the individual responsibility of every member of the Albanian parliament to seize this historic opportunity and vote for the reform," she said. 

    The EU delegation to Tirana on Wednesday expressed regret after the opposition Democratic Party rejected a US compromise proposal for the screening and selection of judicial officials as part of planned justice reforms. 

    "The credibility of the judicial reform overall depends on the credibility of the vetting of judges and prosecutors. To guarantee this, a limited targeted role of the international community through the International Monitoring Operation is crucial," an EU delegation statement said.
    Schmid today in Tirana. Photo: Twitter 
  • Albania and Kosovo are to open a joint consular office in Bari, Italy, according to an agreement signed on Thursday by Albanian Foreign Minister Ditmir Bushati and his Kosovo counterpart, Enver Hoxhaj. 

    The Bari consular office will be the third one that the two countries are to share, after offices in Milan and Munich opened a few weeks ago.

    Albania-Kosovo joint governmental meeting of 2015. Photo: Albanian MFA
  • Bulgaria and Romania are at the bottom of the EU member states in terms of innovations, with Romania being the last among all 28 countries, according to the European Innovation Scoreboard, published on Thursday. 

    The European Commission-run initiative assesses factors like research systems, company investments, entrepreneurship, risk financing and intellectual assets.

    Sweden is the EU innovation leader, followed by Denmark, Finland, Germany and the Netherlands.

    Bulgaria and Romania are the only two countries whose innovation performance are classed as well below the EU average.

    Photo: ladylazarus77/Flickr 

  • The Catholic archdiocese in the Croatian coastal city of Split confirmed for regional television station N1 that it will provide spiritual guidance and other assistance for people attending the Ultra dance music festival in the city. 

    The archdiocese said that it will also help partygoers that need water or medical treatment, and drive them to different locations in order to avoid pricey taxi fares.

    Around 150,000 visitors are expected during the three-day festival, with additional after-parties on the islands of Brac, Hvar and Vis.
  • Milorad Dodik, president of Bosnia’s Serb-dominated entity Republika Srpska, talked to Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic on Thursday in Belgrade about the progress made on the update to Bosnia’s stabilisation and association agreement with the EU, which is one of the key conditions requested by Brussels in order to award membership candidate status. 

    “I think that it will be good for the entire region to sign the updated SAA," Vucic said after the meeting. 

    Dodik said that Germany "will help the integration of Bosnia, but also of Republika Srpska, into the EU".

    Milorad Dodik (left) with Aleksandar Vucic. Photo: BETA. 

  • Albanian Finance Minister Arben Ahmetaj has announced a planned amnesty for businesses’ tax debts from 2008 to 2011, plus a partial amnesty for tax debts created from 2012 to the present day. 

    Ahmetaj said the amnesty, which must first be approved by parliament, was needed to boost the business climate in the country. 

    The private sector’s debt to the state is estimated to be around $800 million.
    Albanian Finance Minister Arben Ahmetaj. Photo:
  • Top stories from the Balkans this Friday:
    • As Albania prepares to vote next week on a crucial reform of the judiciary aimed at curbing corruption, EU and US diplomats have stepped up pressure in a bid to ensure the legislation is adopted. Read more
    • Prison protests spread across Romania this week as inmates expressed their dissatisfaction with poor conditions, despite efforts to reduce overcrowding over the past decade. Read more.
    • A Croatian transplant to Belgrade, Tatjana Zadravec found her feet in the city by working with refugees hoping to reach EU states. Read more.
  • Business analysis website bne IntelliNews reports that the latest ethnically-motivated “bickering” among politicians in Bosnia and Herzegovina over recently-announced census data is creating yet another obstacle to the country’s economic development.

    Failure to reach agreement on crucial issues “has already stalled Bosnia’s EU membership application and put at risk a €550mn International Monetary Fund (IMF) deal, and could have even more serious consequences for the country”, bne IntelliNews reports.
  • Serbian PM-designate Aleksandar Vucic has welcomed the appointment of Boris Johnson as Britain's new foreign secretary, calling him a “friend of Serbia”, B92 reported.

    Johnson’s appointment has been widely questioned and even mocked internationally, with critics pointing to occasions on which the former London mayor offended other countries.

    But Vucic said he was welcome in Belgrade, which Johnson visited while working as a journalist in 1999, when he criticised the NATO bombing.

    "Insults are being heard at his expense from various quarters. He was here in 1999, as one of the rare people from the West who did that," Vucic said.
  • Azmont Investment, a subsidiary of Azerbaijan Global Investments, has officially launched the sale of 113 properties within its Montenegro-based 650 million euro ($725.1 million) luxury Portonovi tourist resort, SeeNews reported.

    The first phase of the resort is due to open in the second half of 2017, when the properties released for sale will be completed and ready for occupation by residents, Azmont said in a statement.

    Azmont also recently launched operations of its bank in Montenegro's capital Podgorica.


  • Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov said on Friday that he will not run for the presidency because the premier’s role has more power.

    With presidential elections due this autumn, Borissov’s party GERB has declined to name its candidate before September, which has caused much speculation about whether Borissov might stand.

    But the premier dismissed the idea, saying that taking part in the presidential elections would be “a desertion”.

    “It would not be fair neither to [my] partners, nor to the people who have given me their trust in this difficult world,” he said.

    Borissov attened an international military training in Burgas on Friday. Photo: Facebook 

  • Four forest fires were burning on the Croatian coast and immediately inland on Friday - in Vrpolje near the town of Sibenik, in Zaton Obrovacki near the town of Zadar, in Zadvarje near the town of Makarska and on the southern island of Vis.

    The fire in Vrpolje spread to the highway connecting Zagreb with the coast, causing the authorities to close one section of the highway.
  • The National Assembly in Bosnia’s Serb-dominated entity Republika Srpska passed a law on Friday to hold a referendum on September 25 about the entity’s annual holiday, the Day of Republika Srpska. 

    The move is a reaction to a ruling by the Bosnian Constitutional Court which in November 2015 declared the Day of Republika Srpska unconstitutional and discriminatory, a decision that was strongly criticised by Bosnian Serbs

    The referendum will ask people if they want to keep holding the holiday on its usual annual date, January 9.

    The National Assembly of RS. Photo: NSRS. 

  • Environmental groups in Albania will protest on Friday afternoon in Tirana against a draft law aiming to open the way for imports of waste to the country, an initiative launched by three ruling-majority MPs. 

    The environmental campaigners believe that the initiative will turn the country into a rubbish dump and will have negative repercussions for decades to come.

    The poster used by environmental groups to oppose the waste import. Photo: AKIP
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia on Friday signed an agreement for the construction of a bridge between the two countries over the Sava river in Svilaj which is to form part of the Corridor 5C transport route between the two countries.

    The bridge will be 640 metres long and 29 meters high, and will cost around 26 million euro. It will be built in two years from the beginning of construction, which should start in September.

    The agreement was signed in the town of Neum by the Bosnian Minister of Communications and Transport, Ismir Jusko, and the Croatian Minister of Maritime Affairs, Transport and Infrastructure, Oleg Butkovic.

    Butkovic (left) with Jusko (right) on Friday in Neum. Photo: Ministry of Transports of BiH 

  • The US ambassador to Tirana, Donald Lu on Friday asked the two main political leaders in Albania, Prime Minister Edi Rama and opposition Democratic Party (PD) chief Lulzim Basha to meet next week to try to reach a consensus over the country’s stalled judicial reform. 

    "We all agree on one point: we are tired of debates. I challenge the leader of the PD and Rama to have a meeting on Monday and not go out of it without a solution. There's still time for compromise," Lu said. 

    On Wednesday, the PD refused to accept a compromise proposal from the US and the EU to back the reform, which is aimed at reducing corruption. 

    The PD doesn't agree on the role that international experts should have in the process of screening the candidates for senior positions in the justice system.

    Assistant Secretary of State, Victoria Nuland accompained by U.S. ambassador to Tirana, Donald Lu. Photo: LSA
  • The presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina on Friday approved an update to the country’s Stabilisation and Association Agreement, which is one of the main conditions required by the European Union to grant membership candidate status. 

    The adoption of the update of the SAA had been opposed by representatives from Bosnia’s Serb-dominated entity of Republika Srpska, who argued that farmers would suffer under the terms of the updated SAA. 

    But eventually, Republika Srpska President Milorad Dodik and his government accepted the updated agreement after the German authorities said they will help cover any losses that farmers might face.

    The Bosnian Presidency. Photo: Anadolu. 

  • Members of Albania's civil society gathered in front of the country's parliament building in Tirana on Monday to call for MPs to approve crucial judicial reform needed to take place before membership negotiations with the European Union can commence. 

    The activists, holding placards expressing their demand, have announced they will hold daily protests to pressure the MPs the pass the proposed reform.

    July 21 is set as the last day when majority and opposition MPs can vote in parliament on constitutional changes enabling the package of judicial reforms, but political leaders remain divided on the proposed changes.

    Civil society protesting today. Photo: Facebook  
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