The Balkans Today: 20th - 24th June 2016
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The Balkans Today

Up to the minute news and updates from the Balkan region

The Balkans Today: 20th - 24th June 2016

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

    The net inflow of foreign direct investment, FDI, in Montenegro fell sharply to 26.5 million euro in January-April from 110.5 million euro in the same period last year, preliminary central bank data indicated.

    Photo: Pixabay.

    Croatia’s parliament will dissolve on July 15 after 137 MPs voted in favour of the date, two against and one abstained on Monday. 

    Croatian President Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic is required to schedule early elections between 30 and 60 days after parliament dissolves, with polls likely to take place in September. 

    MPs filed demands for the dissolution of parliament on Friday after they axed Prime Minister Tihomir Oreskovic and the government fell.
    A group of anti-government protesters taking part in the rally in Macedonia’s capital tonight has tried to tear down the bronze statue of Prometheus standing opposite the parliament building in Skopje, but police intervened, prompting the demonstrators to retreat.

    The statue, part of the grand government revamp dubbed ‘Skopje 2014’ is seen to many in Macedonia as a symbol of the regime of former Prime Minister and leader of the main ruling VMRO DPMNE party, Nikola Gruevski.

    Many protesters remain in front of the parliament building.

    Tomislav Karamarko resigns as leader of #Croatia's right-wing HDZ party ahead of new elections

    Bojan Pajtic, President of Serbia’s Democratic Party, DS, on Monday called for his party members to "turn a new leaf" and engage in "new activism” on key political topics including NATO membership and same-sex marriages.

    Pajtic said his party should stand for Serbia's membership in NATO as well as "a strong Democratic Party", for a legally regulated status for same-sex marriages, and the inclusion of trade unions in the work of the party.

    "We have seen in recent weeks how fast the regime can make a turn from a European policy towards Russia,” Pajtic said in his letter. “Serbia's policy of sitting on two chairs has already gone on for too long, a policy that leads to ruin and devours decades of people's lives in these regions."

    The DS leader added that he had decided to, on the day of the election of the party's leadership, pose questions to its members regarding these four topics.

    Bojan Pajtic. Photo:DS 

    NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said in Trondheim, Norway that Montenegro's accession to NATO had nothing to do with Russia and that Montenegro, as an independent country, defined its own path, local media reported.

    It is the basic right of every independent country to choose its path, including the security agreements it wants to be involved in, so this is a matter between Montenegro and NATO's 28 member states, Stoltenberg was quoted as saying.

    NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg. Photo: BIRN.

    The work of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina has not been blocked, the presidency’s Croat member, Dragan Covic, told Bosnian media after his meeting with the Serb member of the presidency, Mladen Ivanic.

    "The Presidency is not blocked in any way, the regular session will be held on Monday June 27,” Covic said.

    Their meeting was organised after Ivanic indicated that he would harden his position on issues related to Bosnia’s EU membership talks in response to the state statistical agency’s decision to publish the results of the 2013 census without first agreeing on a shared methodology with Bosnian Serb experts.

    According to Covic, "there is no disagreement on the majority of the issues and all the points where there is no agreement will be discussed on Monday." He also noted that no one will be voted out of the presidency as a result of this.

    Covic also confirmed earlier media reports that he had requested a telephone conference on June 15 between all three presidency members to discuss a proposed agreement on the second issue - adaptation of the SAA.

    Dragan Covic. Photo: Anadolu

    Serbia’s national carrier Air Serbia re-established on Thursday direct flights to the United States, between Belgrade and New York, after more than 20 years.
    Former Macedonian Interior Minister Gordana Jankuloska appeared at the Skopje Criminal Court on Thursday for her hearing in a case where she is suspected of taking part in a scheme last year that destroyed equipment used to illegally eavesdrop.

    Jankuloska, who was one of former Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski's closest associates, entered the court from the front door and the hearing is currently still in session.
    The Special Prosecution had earlier demanded "measures of caution" be taken against Jankuloska, fearing she might try to flee. The Special Prosecution suspects five people, including Jankuloska and senior members of the Secret Police, of misuse of office in relation to the case, codenamed “Fortress”.

    Former Interior Minister Gordana Jankuloska. Photo by: Macedonian Interior Ministry

    If the UK voted to leave the European Union, Euroscepticism may increase in Serbia, but will not take Serbia off its path towards membership to the group, said Sonja Licht, the President of Belgrade-based NGO Fund for Political Excellence.

    “The eventual Brexit would cause huge earthquakes, especially in that country [the UK], while such an outcome of the referendum could increase [Euro]scepticism in Serbia, but will not shake Serbia on its path towards the EU,” she said on Thursday as millions of Britons are voting in the UK’s ‘in-out’ EU referendum.

    Licht does not believe that after the UK’s possible exit the EU would begin to “steam”, but that it would mark the beginning of a period of great questioning.

    Croatia's lack of an official opinion on Brexit is nothing uncommon since the country rarely takes sides on such issues, Croatian political analyst Dejan Jovic explained for regional television network N1.

    Jovic added that politicians from the two biggest Croatian parties - HDZ and SDP – would, he assumes, support Britain’s approach to the EU, which unlike Germany and France, is very keen on enlargement.
    Osama bin Laden bodyguard & family member released from #GTMO to Montenegro. @POTUS to blame for dangerous decision.…

    Top stories from the Balkans this Friday:
    • Despite hopes to the contrary, Serbia will not open Chapters 23 and 24 in its EU negotiations during the Dutch EU presidency that ends on July 1, experts warn. Read more.

    • The formation of a new Croatian government will likely again depend on third parties such as MOST and Living Wall, both of which, however, need to resolve their internal issues, experts say. Read more.

    • Preachers of radical Islam could face financial penalties and up to five years in prison in Bulgaria under changes to the penal code backed by MPs. Read more.

    • Albanian authorities have promised to erect the first memorial to the victims of communism in Tirana, although a deadline for the project remains absent. Read more.
    The UK leaving the EU will have no effect on Croatia's stability, but the event should not be ignored, Zoran Milanovic, president of Croatia’s opposition centre-left Social Democratic Party, SDP, said following the results of the UK referendum in which 52 per cent of voters opted to bail out of the EU.

    "In Croatia, there will be democratic and some less democratic demanding to get out of the EU," he said, emphasising that this is what makes a democracy.

    Zoran Milanovic. Photo: BETAPHOTO/HINA/Denis CERIC/DS 

    Serbian Prime Minister-designate Aleksandar Vucic said his country will continue on its EU path “since we got trust of our citizens for it on the last elections held in April” after the results of the UK’s referendum were released in which 52 per cent of voters chose to leave the EU.  

    Following a government session on Friday, for which the Governor of the National Bank of Serbia, Jorgavanka Tabakovic, was present, Vucic said that the future economic and financial stability of the Serbia was discussed, but he did not disclose any more details.

    However, he did add that given the referendum result, now is the time to see what German Chancellor Angela Merkel will do, since she is the most important figure in the EU.

    Some opposition parties on Friday voiced their wishes to change Serbia’s politics towards EU membership, but Vucic said adamantly that this would not happen.

    "Even if they [the opposition] put two million people on the street, we will not make changes about [Serbia’s] EU path, since I think that we have made the best choice," Vucic stated.

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