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International Information Centre for Balkan Studies



Priority dossiers under the Bulgarian EU Council Presidency

Bulgaria will hold the EU Council Presidency from January to June 2018. Its Presidency is part of the Trio Presidency composed of Estonia, Bulgaria and Austria. This will be the first time Bulgaria has held the rotating presidency since it joined the EU in 2007.

Read more: Priority dossiers under the Bulgarian EU Council Presidency

FYR Macedonia: Zoran Zaev announces renaming of Skopje airport and the country's main motorway

FYRoM Prime Minister Zoran Zaev announced the renaming of the airport of Skopje and the country’s main motorway leading to Greece, in joint statements with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras following their meeting in Davos on 25.01.2018.

Read more: FYR Macedonia: Zoran Zaev announces renaming of Skopje airport and the country's main motorway

Bulgarian Parliament rejects motion of no confidence over corruption

The motion of no confidence against Prime Minister Boiko Borissov’s current government, tabled by the opposition socialists on the topic of corruption, was defeated in a vote on January 25, 2018.

Read more: Bulgarian Parliament rejects motion of no confidence over corruption

Merkel in Sofia: “We expect a lot from Bulgaria’s EU Council Presidency.”

It was a short flight for Angela Merkel. The German government’s Airbus, operated by the Air Force, landed in Sofia (21-.01.2018) less than two hours after taking off. After getting off the aircraft, the acting Chancellor was greeted by Bulgaria’s Prime Minister Boiko Borissov, who gave her a bouquet of orange flowers.

Flanked by Borissov and her Ambassador in Sofia, Herbert Salber, Angela Merkel walked towards a black limousine with a star on its hood, which took her downtown, where police officers had been standing in the cold for hours, in order to block regular traffic once her entourage would race across big intersections.

She talked to Boiko Borissov behind closed doors. Both appeared at a press conference afterwards. “I am glad I have the opportunity to visit Bulgaria at the beginning of the EU Council Presidency”, Chancellor Merkel said. “We expect a lot from it.”

She also stated, Bulgaria could do a lot with its good neighbourly relations and mentioned the Western Balkans countries, which needed a European perspective. She said she supported the Sofia government’s plan for a summit for that region in spring.

 

Merkel promised Germany would continue to work on Bulgaria’s side and thanked the country for guarding its southern border to Turkey, which is also an external EU border. Of course, migration was another subject she talked about with Borissov. So was Turkey.

The Chancellor stated, she welcomed Bulgaria’s idea of building a gas hub in Varna, and to use it for the distribution of gas throughout Europe.

Bulgaria’s EU Council Presidency was well prepared, Merkel said. Of course she knows every detail of the preparations, also because her party friend Hans-Gert Pöttering is advising Borissov during the 6-month Presidency. So is the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, which is close to her party and runs an office in Sofia.

Borissov thanked Angela Merkel for her visit to Bulgaria and her support for the gas hub plans. He said he was looking forward to tomorrow’s decision by Merkel’s potential coalition partner, the Social Democratic Party (SPD). At a party conference, their delegates will either vote to start official coalition talks with Merkel’s conservative party CDU, or not to do so. They might save Germany or push the country into a deeper political crisis. “Germany is a motor of Europe”, Borissov stated.

“I am particularly happy that the EU is conducting a peaceful (…) policy”, he said. “We will do our best to normalise relations with our neighbors because Europe needs peace and tranquility, in order to be the best place to live in, with its prosperity.”

Source: https://sofiaglobe.com/2018/01/20/merkel-in-sofia-we-expect-a-lot-from-bulgarias-eu-council-presidency/

 

Read more: Merkel in Sofia: “We expect a lot from Bulgaria’s EU Council Presidency.”

Greeks rally against use of "Macedonia" in name dispute with Skopje

THESSALONIKI, Greece (Reuters) - Hundreds of thousands of Greeks in the northern city of Thessaloniki rallied on Sunday to protest against the use of the name “Macedonia” in any solution to a row between Athens and Skopje over the name of the former Yugoslav republic.

Read more: Greeks rally against use of "Macedonia" in name dispute with Skopje

Turkey summons UN Security Council member envoys, writes to Syrian regime

The Turkish Foreign Ministry on Jan. 20, 2018 summoned Russia and the U.S.’s top Ankara-based diplomats to inform them about the ongoing military operation in Syria's northwestern Afrin province.

Read more: Turkey summons UN Security Council member envoys, writes to Syrian regime

Romanians Resume Anti-Corruption Protests

Thousands take to the streets again on Saturday (20.01.2018) to protest against the ruling party’s justice reforms that local and international observers warn will threaten judicial independence. 

Read more: Romanians Resume Anti-Corruption Protests

EU "won't accept countries with open issues with neighbors"

EU Commissioner Johannes Hahn says 2025 is "a realistic goal for a new wave of (EU) enlargement.)

Read more: EU "won't accept countries with open issues with neighbors"

Montenegro Calls Presidential Elections

The speaker of the Montenegrin Parliament, Ivan Brajovic, has set a date for the next presidential elections on April 15, 2018.

Read more: Montenegro Calls Presidential Elections

Turkey to reject any offer of partnership with the EU that falls short of membership: Minister

Turkey would reject any offer of partnership with the European Union that falls short of membership, Ankara’s EU affairs minister has said, warning that the current impasse gave Turkey no reason to maintain its migrant deal with the bloc.

Read more: Turkey to reject any offer of partnership with the EU that falls short of membership: Minister

Bulgarian Parliament unanimously ratifies good-neighbourliness treaty with Macedonia

Bulgaria’s National Assembly voted unanimously on January 18, 2018  to ratify the treaty with the Republic of Macedonia on friendship, good-neighbourliness and co-operation.

Read more: Bulgarian Parliament unanimously ratifies good-neighbourliness treaty with Macedonia

Serbian politician in Kosovo Oliver Ivanovic shot six times, dies of his wounds

The leader of the Civic Initiative (GI) SDP, Oliver Ivanovic, died of his injuries on 16.01.2018, after he was shot in front of his office in Kosovska Mitrovica.

Read more: Serbian politician in Kosovo Oliver Ivanovic shot six times, dies of his wounds

Romania Ruling Party Nominates Woman as PM

Romania’s ruling Social Democrat Party nominated Viorica Dancila to replace Mihai Tudose as prime minister after the latter was dismissed on 15.01.2018.

Read more: Romania Ruling Party Nominates Woman as PM

The UK and the future of the Western Balkans

HOUSE OF LORDS

Select Committee on International Relation 1st Report of Session 2017–19 Ordered to be printed 13 December 2017 and published 10 January 2018

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PUTIN’S ASYMMETRIC ASSAULT ON DEMOCRACY IN RUSSIA AND EUROPE: IMPLICATIONS FOR U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY

A MINORITY STAFF REPORT PREPARED FOR THE USE OF THE COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN RELATIONS UNITED STATES SENATE ONE HUNDRED FIFTEENTH CONGRESS SECOND SESSION JANUARY 10, 2018

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