The Balkans Today: 6th May - 10th June 2016
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The Balkans Today

Up to the minute news and updates from the Balkan region

The Balkans Today: 6th May - 10th June 2016

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

    Bosnia's state court sentenced Bosnian citizen Senad Kostic to one year in prison on Monday for having tried to join Islamic State in Syria.

    Kostic, who is originally from the northwestern town of Velika Kladusa, travelled by bus to Montenegro's capital Podgorica at the beginning of January, where he booked a flight to Istanbul with the aim of going to Syria as a jihadist.

    He was arrested on January 12 by Turkish police and then transferred back to Bosnia.

    According to a BIRN analysis conducted in March, at least 200 Bosnian citizens have so far fought with Islamic State and at least 50 of them have returned home.

    Croatia’s political crisis is not deterring investors, who are still attracted by the country’s improving economic situation since it became a member of the European Union, Bloomberg reported on Monday.

    At a conference in Zagreb earlier the same day, the head of Siemens Croatia, Malden Fogec, told reporters: “This political situation will not be construed as an obstacle to investment for those who know Croatia.”

    The country descended into political crisis last week after Prime Minister Tihomir Oreskovic urged his two deputies - Tomislav Karamarko and Bozo Petrov – to resign following months of in-house squabbles between the leaders in the ruling coalition.

    Karamarko promptly responded to the call by announcing his party, the Croatian Democratic Union, HDZ, would withdraw its support for the government.

    Despite this turbulence, Croatia’s economy recorded a 2.7 per cent expansion from January to March compared to this same period in 2015, making it the sixth consecutive quarter where growth has occurred.

    Croatian government. Photo: BETA/HINA/Lana SLIVAR DOMINIC 

    Bulgarian historians, politicians and public figures have pressed the Ministry of Education to introduce broader studies of the totalitarian regime that ruled over the country between 1944 and 1999.

    The activists, united in the foundation “Truth and Memory”, have proposed 26 historical facts and events from Bulgaria’s dictatorial past to be included in the school curriculum, they announced at a discussion in Sofia on Monday. 

    Among the proposed additions are the communist coup in 1944, the mass arrests that occurred during this time, killings of intellectuals decided upon by the People’s Court, and the repressions within the administration and church.
    Serbian MP Dragan Sormaz from the ruling Progressive Party claimed it would likely be better for his country to first enter the EU and then have talks regarding the possibility of NATO membership at a conference in Belgrade on Tuesday.

    At the event, called 'Partnership for Serbia: Serbia, NATO and Strategic Communication', Sormaz stated that Serbia is and always was a member of the western hemisphere and that its EU integration can not be reversed.

    “I do not think that Russia can offer to Serbia what Serbia needs. Of course, we will cherish our friendship with Russia, but then again, we will cherish our friendship with other countries,” Sormaz said.

    He added that if Serbia decides to join NATO, it would first need to raise its standards in terms of the rule of law and human rights to become compatible with the benchmark set by the EU and NATO.

    “Military capacity is ready and it is compatible with NATO. However, [other] standards [for] the country should also be met, so the situation with Bulgaria and Romania [is] not be repeated,” he explained.
    Nineteen Montenegrin Serb opposition members of the parliament on Tuesday called on Slovenian legislative body not to ratify protocol of Montenegro’s NATO membership and reiterated calls for an referendum which the government in Podgorica rejects.

    The National Assembly of Slovenia is expected to ratify the NATO accession protocol for Montenegro on Wednesday after the government adopted the relevant in May.
    Bulgarian police have arrested 90 people in relation to the gun fight in the Bulgarian resort Sunny Beach late on Wednesday, Bulgaria’s minister of interior Rumyana Bachvarova announced on Friday during a hearing in the parliament.

    Meanwhile, foreign tourists have been left in shock after witnessing the incident, which took the life of one man and almost killed two, including one of Bulgaria’s most notorious drug lords, Dimitar Zhelyazkov. 

    Among the tourists who had to flee for the lives when the shooting broke out between two gangs in the 4 You restaurant was a group of British teens, on their first holiday together abroad, British media reported.

    “It was totally surreal and I still can’t believe it even happened, let alone so close to us as we were right by the shooters, they were just 10 feet away from us,” 17-year-old Ross told the Evening Standard.

    Around 25 Norwegian citizens also witnessed the incident while dining in the restaurant on Wednesday evening, with some confusing the gun fight with a terrorist attack.

    Sunny Beach. Photo:Zlota Bulgaria/Flickr 

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