The Balkans Today: 27th June - 1st July
 
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The Balkans Today

Up to the minute news and updates from the Balkan region

The Balkans Today: 27th June - 1st July

  • Croatian police have arrested four individuals from the coastal city of Split and one from Sibenik, all suspected of causing interruptions during the football match between Croatia and the Czech Republic earlier this month in the European football championship in France.

    The five people, aged between 20 and 28 years old, will be held in detention for a month, with bail set at between 5,300 and 6,000 euros each.

    The four from Split are alleged to have caused public disorder and committed a hate crime by using weapons and tools that could endanger people and damage property, which is punishable with a prison sentence of between six months to five years. 

    The person from Sibenik is suspected of taking part in causing disorder and violence in the stands, for disturbing public order and peace, and for encouraging other supporters to commit acts of violence in the stands.
  • President Barack Obama sent the US Senate the Protocol of an accession of Montenegro to NATO, asking the lawmakers to continue working with him in order to improve Europe by giving counsel and agreement for that protocol.

    "I hereby announce my agreement with the ratification of Accession Protocol of Montenegro to NATO. This Protocol has been signed in Brussels on May 19th, 2016 with a support of the US and other members of the Alliance," Obama’s statement reads.

    He said that full ratification from USA and its allies will enable Montenegro to become a member of NATO.

    Barack Obama: Photo: The White House.


  • The publishing of the 2013 census results today by Bosnia’s state statistical agency demonstrates the farce in which Bosnia lives and Republika Srpska, the country’s Serb-dominated entity, will never accept nor publish these results, the entity’s president, Milorad Dodik, told SRNA news agency on Thursday after the data was released.

    “If somebody wants to show that Bosnia is a failed state, [the decision of publishing the results without the agreement of RS] is the best way to show it,” Dodik said, adding that releasing the data in this manner was an ‘arrogant’ move.

    Dodik claimed that the census publication “has been made possible with the clear assistance of the international community in Bosnia, which once more demonstrated to be biased, and not a supervisor and a protector of the objective procedures that [should] have been taken by consensus, also in the case of the publication of these results.”

    He also announced that the entity’s politicians will soon call a session of the National Assembly of Republika Srpska “in order to approve a law which will enable us to publish our results independently.”

    Milorad Dodik. Photo: Anadolu.


  • Bulgaria is being forced by the EU to sell its state-owned gas operator Bulgartransgaz to avoid a 300-million-euro fine for breaching the EU’s antitrust legislation, Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov told journalists after the meeting of the European Council on Wednesday.

    Тhis follows a probe which the European Commission launched last year in Bulgaria’s Energy Holding, BEH, which has been suspected of hindering competitor’s access to key gas infrastructures in Bulgaria.
    "They want to impose on us a procedure over the ownership of pipes and compressor stations. We cannot allow that, Borissov said after a meeting with EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager. 

    The EU Commissioner’s spokesperson told BIRN on Thursday that the Commission's antitrust investigation is ongoing and it has not yet reached a final decision. 

    “As is common practice in antitrust investigations, Commissioner Vestager has met with Bulgarian counterparts to discuss the state of play of the investigation,” he added.

    Bulgarian authorities refrained from more comments on the issue on Thursday.

    Boyko Borissov with the management of Bulgartransgaz. Photo: Facebook 


  • The Bulgarian Parliament gave a green light to a new anti-corruption bill on its first reading on Thursday.
    The draft law, which would pave the way for setting up a national body for fighting high-level graft, was approved by an overwhelming majority of MPs, who had rejected the first versions last winter.

    The draft sets rules and procedures for fighting corruption and forfeiture of illegally acquired assets. It also allows for anonymous anti-corruption alerts against the authorities to be submitted - something initially criticised by the MPs.

    In order for the law to enter into force, it still needs to pass on a second reading.

    Bulgarian Parliament. Photo: Todor Bozhinov 


  • The fence that was earlier erected at the Batina border crossing with Serbia in northeast Croatia was removed late Thursday afternoon.

    Hours earlier, Vlaho Orepic, the interior minister in the now technical Croatian government, told national newspaper 24 Sata that the barrier had been erected as a measure of “pure precaution”.

    He explained that due to an increased number of migrants entering Hungary from Serbia, the fence was raised to prevent any who may have decided to try to then enter Croatia.

    Vlaho Orepic. Photo: Facebook 


  • On the margins of the conference of the European People's Party in the Croatian coastal city of Split, Andrej Plenkovic – the favourite to become the new president of centre-right Croatian Democratic Union, HDZ - said that a coalition with centre-left Social Democratic Party, SDP, is currently not possible nor needed.

    Plenkovic is the only party member that expressed his candidacy for the in-party presidential elections set for July 17, after Tomislav Karamarko resigned from the leadership post last week amid the political crisis in which the HDZ-led coalition government fell.

    Andrej Plenkovic. Photo: Flickr/Sandro Weltin/Council of Europe 


  • The government in Montenegro has agreed to offer a million euros reward for fresh information on the murder of the prominent Montenegrin Dusko Jovanovic who was killed 12 years ago.

    On the proposal of the new Interior Minister, Goran Danilovic, Montenegro's government on Thursday said was offering a reward for fresh information about who ordered or carried out the murder of the prominent editor in 2004.

    Jovanovic, an editor-in-chief and owner of the daily newspaper Dan, well known for his opposition to the government, was shot dead on leaving his office in Podgorica on May 27, 2004. He had received numerous death threats before his death.
     
    Dusko Jovanovic. Photo: fondacija-duskojovanovic.com


  • Thursday’s elections for a new student leader at Macedonia’s oldest and biggest university, St Cyril and Methodius, went off in a tense atmosphere that included stealing of ballot boxes caught on camera and scuffles between protesting students who wanted to enter the premises of the Student Parliament where they suspected forgery was taking place. Special police prevented them from doing so, however.

    Protesting students also complained that the secrecy of the vote had been organized by an illegitimate leadership of the Student’s Parliament and had been compromised by unsecured locations for voting. They also said the ballot papers lacked proper security stamps and serial numbers inscribed on them that should prevent forgery.

    They said they suspected the ruling VMRO DPMNE party had had a hand in the elections, in an attempt to maintain its control over the Student Parliament, which has a say in all university governing bodies.

    Special police intervention against protesting students in Skopje. Footage by Nova.TV
    by NOVATV MK via YouTube

  • The IMF will no longer post a Resident Representative to Macedonia from the second half of August 2016 once the term of the current representative, Patrick Gitton, expires, the IMF said in a press statement, adding it will, however, maintain a strong presence in the country.

    “In making the decision, the IMF considered that stronger field representation had become less necessary in the absence of an IMF program with FYR Macedonia” the IMF wrote.

    “The IMF’s fundamental missions of surveillance of macroeconomic developments and policies, as well as the provision of technical assistance, will be maintained,” it added.
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