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Balkan Developments

Bulgaria wants new bridges with Romania

Photo: archiveBulgaria is prepared to invest EUR 50 to 100 billion in the construction of a third bridge over the Danube, said Prime Minister Boyko Borissov at the Munich Security Conference. At the talks on cohesion between Northern and Southern Europe Boyko Borissov said the construction must be set in motion of a third and even fourth bridge in the lower reaches of the Danube. Emphasizing that the future of the region lies in the construction of motorways and railway lines from South to North, the Bulgarian prime minister suggested that the third bridge be built at Nikopol or Silistra.

Coronavirus in China halts production at Fiat plant in Serbia

Photo: BGNESFiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) has halted production at its plant in Serbia over shortage of auto parts from China. The plant at Kragujevac is the first car manufacturer in Europe to have halted production over the coronavirus crisis but more are expected to follow because global supply chains have been broken. FCA is hoping to resume the import of audio systems and other electronic components and restart the manufacture of Fiat 500L. FCA Srbija, is a joint structure of FIAT and the Serbian government set up in 2012, with an investment of EUR 1 billion, and is the biggest exporter in the country.

Greece endeavours to attract Volkswagen investment in electromobility project

Photo: volkswagen.bgGreece’s Deputy Foreign Minister for Economic Diplomacy and Openness Kostas Fragogiannis discussed an electromobility project with a delegation of Volkswagen. 

The Greek Government is strongly committed to the promotion of electromobility as a strategic priority, reads a statement posted on the Greek Foreign Ministry website. The Volkswagen delegation visited Kavala and Thasos to inspect the capacity of the local infrastructure for electric car manufacture.

It should be noted that, at this stage, all talks between the Greek government and Volkswagen are preliminary in nature. Hence, no decisions have been taken nor a timetable for a concluding agreement been finalized between the two parties, the information posted on the Greek Foreign Ministry’s website reads.

North Macedonia parliament dissolves itself

Photo: BGNESThe North Macedonia assembly dissolved itself ahead of the early parliamentary elections on 12 April. Before doing so, despite resistance from the opposition VMRO-DPMNE, the ruling coalition passed the controversial public prosecution bill which is one of the condition for Skopje to be given a starting date for EU accession negotiations. To begin with the bill received only 74 votes with 32 against, but after a revote got the qualified majority of two-thirds required by the constitution, or 80 votes out of the 120-seat local assembly. The opposition MPs who supported the bill apologized to their electors and stated they would never again run for parliament.

The US presses Kosovo to make concessions to Serbia

Mike Pompeo  /  Photo: ReutersUS Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and US special envoy for the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue Ambassador Richard Grenell refused a meeting with the Prime Minister of Albania Albin Kurti, after Kurti contested, in Munich,  the deal on restoring rail and road links between Belgrade and Pristina brokered with the mediation of the US.

The US rejected Kurti’s plan to suspend the 100-percent customs duties on Serbian commodities in exchange for reciprocal moves by the Serbian authorities and a renunciation of the international blockade on the former Yugoslav republic. State radio and TV of Kosovo announced that the US is postponing all big investment projects in the country until Pristina lifts customs duties on imports from Serbia.

Montenegro seeks to establish a church of its own separately from Serbia

Milo Djukanovic  /  Photo: archiveMontenegro must have an Orthodox church of its own, separate from the Serbian church and from Serbia to assert its national identity, said President Milo Djukanovic. He made this statement after more than one month of protests organized by the Metropolitanate of Montenegro and the Littoral of the Serbian Orthodox Church which is unhappy with the adoption of the Law on Religious Freedom. The law hands over to Podgorica all church property built before 1919 when Montenegro was integrated, unwillingly, into the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. Djukanovic accused the Serbian clergy of undermining the independence of Montenegro for 14 years.

Compiled by Ivo Ivanov