The Balkans Today: 26th - 30th September 2016
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The Balkans Today

Up to the minute news and updates from the Balkan region

The Balkans Today: 26th - 30th September 2016

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

    Top stories from the Balkans this Monday:
    • People in Bosnia’s Serb-dominated Republika Srpska voted overwhelmingly in a referendum to defy a ruling by the state-level Constitutional Court that banned the entity’s ‘statehood day’, initial results suggested. Read more.
    • The UN-backed Yugoslav war crimes tribunal has tried hard to protect witnesses and has prosecuted several people for intimidation, but its latest attempt has provoked a bitter dispute with Serbia. Read more.
    • A proposal to run a joint candidate for Belgrade mayor in the next city elections could be the best chance for the embattled opposition to challenge the dominance of the ruling party, experts believe. Read more.
    • A joint list of non-party candidates endorsed by all anti-regime forces in Macedonia is the best way to defeat Nikola Gruevski, a prominent voice in the new leftist Levica party says. Read more.
    The administrative court in Albania’s capital, Tirana, ordered the main opposition Democratic Party on Monday to pay 145 euros for damages caused to the city during anti-government protests it organised in December 2015, despite the municipality of Tirana seeking 118,000 euros in compensation.

    The Democratic Party took the municipality to court over the compensation request, with the court ruling that the political party was only responsible for two of the seven damages it was accused of causing.

    Protesters demolish the bunker. Photo: LSA/ Gent Shkullaku 
    Growth is expected to remain stable in 2016 in Montenegro, according to the latest Southeast Europe Regular Economic Report, SEERER. Growth is projected at 3.2 percent in 2016, the same as in 2015, and is forecast to reach 3.6 percent in 2017.

    Continuing growth is helping improve employment and drive down poverty at the regional level, notes the report, but is not impacting unemployment in Montenegro, which is forecast to rise slightly in 2016, remaining at around 20%.

    “Underpinning the acceleration in growth was Serbia, the region’s largest economy,” says Barbara Cunha, World Bank’s Senior Economist and lead author of the report. “Serbia moved from 0.7 percent growth last year in the aftermath of the 2014 floods to an expected 2.5 percent this year.
    Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama compared the reconciliation process between Albania and Serbia to that of Germany and France after the Second World War during his speech at an economic forum between Albania and Germany on Tuesday.

    Rama credited German Chancellor Angela Merkel for her important role in the Berlin Process, a five-year process started in August 2014 aimed at developing the cooperation between and economies of the Western Balkan countries, for helping the region to move towards reconciliation following the 1990s conflicts. 

    "The Berlin process made possible for Balkan leaders to sit together to talk about infrastructure and not have a fight," Rama said.

     Edi Rama and  Aleksandar Vucic during a press conference in May 2015. Photo:
    Montenegro is the leader in Southeast Europe in the transposition of the sustainability acquis comprising energy efficiency, environment and renewables, and has already met its binding renewable energy target for 2020, the Energy Community has said, SeeNews reports.

    "Having partly transposed the Third Energy Package in December 2015, albeit almost one year past the transposition deadline, Montenegro is on a good way in its compliance with the Energy Community acquis", the Secretariat of the Vienna-based organization said in a Monitoring Report.

    There are currently no open infringement cases against Montenegro.
    Croatian President Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic informed the public that no candidate managed to gather the support of the majority of the 151 MPs in the Croatian parliament following the conclusion of the first round of consultations on naming the prime minister-designate held today in the presidential residence in Zagreb.

    She said that the second round of consultations will be held on October 10.
    Croatian President Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic. Photo: BETAPHOTO/HINA/Lana SLIVAR DOMINIC/MO
    Grateful to you all who support me and fully committed to continue the race for #NextSG! @She4SG
    MoD Minister:“#Montenegro stands ready to contribute in strengthening #NATO #Alliance, its unity and solidarity“ #abcd_icds
    A 20-year-old French citizen, suspected of having links with jihadist organisations, has been arrested in Bulgaria on his way to Turkey, Bulgarian media reported on Thursday, quoting the French newspaper Figaro.

    Last week, the Law Faculty of the University of Rouen in northern France was closed after the young man was spotted hanging around the building.

    He was under police control and had to report daily to the local police office, but left France in his car on Tuesday and was arrested early on Wednesday after crossing into Bulgaria from Serbia.
    “This is the sixth time that we gather to show our determination in our demand for an answer to who did the night demolition in Savamala,” Virginija Djekovic from the “Let’s not drown Belgrade” ["Ne davimo Beograd"] civic movement told the crowd of protesters, now believed to number around 5,000.
    She also read a letter of support from a Spanish civic initiative called "Together for Barcelona".
    Activist Filip Vuksa told the crowd of protesters, now estimated to number around 7,000, said that police in Serbia act more like personal guards than a municipal force.
    "Private laws are made and the Assembly behaves like there is no Constitution. I am a citizen and I will not be silenced,” he said, adding: “We want functional institutions.”
    While attending talks in Brussels on the telecommunications agreement between Kosovo and Serbia, Kosovo’s Minister for Dialogue, Edita Tahiri, raised the issue of the arrest of the director for Kosovo Police in the Mitrovica region, Nehat Thaci, and demanded Serbian authorities immediately release him.

    Tahiri, who is Kosovo's chief negotiator in the Brussels-led dialogue, said that Kosovo's delegation in Brussels will continue to apply pressure for Thaci to be released as soon as possible, saying “This behaviour [by Serbia] has damaged dialogue on normalisation of interstate relations.”

    Tahiri also called Serbia’s actions “arrogant”, claiming that “instead of taking responsibility for genocide in Kosovo, [Serbia] is violating the Brussels agreement on free movement and the European Union should increase attention to prevent violations of the agreements.”

    Nehat Thaci- the director for Kosovo Police in the Mitrovica region | Photo: BIRN 

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