The Balkans Today: 2nd - 8th May 2016
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The Balkans Today

Up to the minute news and updates from the Balkan region

The Balkans Today: 2nd - 8th May 2016

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

    Arson ruled out in fire that destroyed #Serbia Orthodox cathedral in New York on Easter Sunday

    Economic news agency Bloomberg reported on Wednesday that Serbian Eurobonds have become a good buy for investors worried about the potential risks caused by Britain’s referendum next month on whether to leave the EU.

    “The nation’s Eurobonds have outperformed those of Poland, Hungary, Croatia and Romania in the past month as concern mounted that those nations may suffer from the loss of billions of euros in EU funding if the UK votes to leave the bloc in June,” the Bloomberg report said.

    “Since Serbia’s application to join the 28-nation group has been in limbo for seven years, the country is more shielded than its neighbours, according to Commerzbank AG and Raiffeisen Bank International AG,” it added. 
    Top stories from the Balkans this Thursday:
    • Prisoners across Macedonia are launching protests to demand sentence reductions amid anger sparked by President Gjorge Ivanov’s decision to halt criminal investigations against top politicians. Read more.

    • A criminal investigation is being conducted into allegedly substandard disinfectants used in public hospitals after journalists reported that some products were too weak to be effective. Read more.

    • The grand reopening of a historic Ottoman-era mosque in Banja Luka, restored after being demolished by Serb forces during wartime, will indicate how committed Bosnia’s Serb-dominated entity is to reconciliation. Read more.
    Publishing the results of Bosnia's 2013 census is the responsibility of the Statistical Agency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the country's Minister of Civil Affairs, Adil Osmanovic, told Bosnian media on Thursday. 

    "I expect that the persons who are at the head of the agency will be able to finish their work in a professional way and without any political pressure," Osmanovic said, adding that time is not on their side given the legal deadline for publishing the census results is July 1.

    Bosnia's 2013 census was its first since declaring independence, but the results have still not been published due to methodological disputes between the country's three main statistical agencies, which cannot agree on the criteria to be used to calculate the number of residents.

    The last meeting of the Central Census Bureau, which groups members of the three agencies, was held in mid-April, but no agreement was found and it is currently unclear when the next session will take place.

    "Every day which passes without agreement further enrages Bosnian citizens," Osmanovic said.

    Adil Osmanovic | Photo: Youtube 

    Balsa Bozovic, the leader of the Democratic Party in the Serbian capital, sent a phantom mask to the Mayor of Belgrade, Sinisa Mali, on Thursday in what appears to be a symbolic criticism of Mali's reaction to an incident when 30 masked men tore down buildings along the Serbian capital's waterfront and allegedly beat up locals between April 24 and 25.

    Mali and Belgrade police denied all knowledge of the incident last week.

    Bozovic said that the Democratic Party will address all national and international institutions in the country in order to uncover the perpetrators of the crime, and if those responsible do not come forward, they will organise a protest.

     Some of the
    citizens made a joke poster adding the masked person on the Belgrade Waterfront
    banner | Photo: Facebook

    US Secretary of State John Kerry congratulated Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic on his election victory, saying his leadership will continue to be essential for Serbia in terms of maintaining its focus on achieving its set goals, including in the sphere of its rule of law, its fight against corruption, and normalisation of relations with Kosovo.

    Kerry expressed his congratulations via a card that was delivered to Vucic by the US ambassador in Belgrade, Kyle Scott.

    Kyle Scott and Aleksandar Vucic today in Belgrade | Photo: Beta 

    Hopes for substantive economic growth rates for Albania have been crushed again due to the slow progress of structural reforms, Albania's central bank announced on Wednesday.

    The governor of the Bank of Albania, Gent Sejko, said in a press conference that his institution had revised its forecast for annual growth to 3 per cent for 2016, down from the initial forcast of 3.
    4 per cent, due to weaker than expected consumption and inflation rates.

    Some analysts were alarmed earlier this year by very low inflation rates in the country, which stood at 0.
    2 per cent in February and 0.3 per cent in March.

    Albania's National Institute of Statistics, INSTAT, also announced last month that consumption in the country fell by 0.
    5 per cent in 2015, the first yearly fall registered since 1998.

    The Bank of Albania also cut its main interest rate to 1.
    5 per cent on Wednesday, down from 1.75 per cent, hoping it will help to revive consumption. However, Sejko warned that much of the problem lies with the country's government and slow pace of structural reforms.

    The governor of the Bank of Albania Gent Sejko

    #Bosnia is not a safe haven for terrorists, says Foreign Minister Igor Crnadak

    Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic said Croatia and Montenegro should have tried once more to solve their border dispute over the Prevlaka peninsula through dialogue before the matter was referred to international arbitration.

    "I think we should try to reach an agreement on border delimitation through direct negotiation before we decide to refer the matter to an international court," Grabar-Kitarovic said in an interview with the Podgorica-based Vijesti daily on Friday.

    Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic | Photo: Beta.

    Canadian billionaire Peter Munk has sold his stake in the Porto Montenegro resort to the state investment fund of Dubai.

    The management of Porto Montenegro and the Investment Corporation of Dubai, ICD, which is controlled by the Emirati government, officially announced the sale of the superyacht marina on Friday.

    Mohammed Al Shaibani, the executive director and CEO of Investment Corp. of Dubai, said Friday that the purchase of the marina "presents an opportunity for ICD to access a successful business with significant potential for development expansion, both in the marina and landside."


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