Slovenia & Balkan Weekly News Briefing — Week Ending 12 June 2016


25 years of Slovenia: Tourism thriving
 Despite being relatively unknown to European and other tourist markets when gaining independence, Slovenia has quickly managed to win its place on the global tourism map. In the 25 years, it has welcomed 59 million tourists, who have generated 187 million overnight stays.

The largest investment in railway infrastructure
 “It is my pleasure to announce that, with the modernisation of the Pragersko–Hodoš railway line completed, Slovenia finally connected the last section of the Trans-European transport corridor connecting Lyon and Ukraine, which has, until now, not been electrified. From now on, our passengers will be able to travel between stations with a speed of 160 km/h,” said keynote speaker Prime Minister Miro Cerar at the closing event of the modernisation project.

AND “Slovenia plans to invest in excess of EUR 2bn in its rail network in the 2014–2020.”

Big housing development launched in Ljubljana
 Work on a major new housing development was launched in Ljubljana on Thursday as investors started works in a construction pit that had been abandoned for five years following the investor’s bankruptcy, in what signals a revival of housing construction in the capital.

BAMC selling claims to Litostroj Jeklo, 80% stake in firm
 The Bank Asset Management Company (BAMC) issued a call for bids for its claims to steel producer Litostroj Jeklo worth EUR 19.3m and its 79.49% stake in the company.

Study indicates 8,400 new jobs to be created in coming six months
 Slovenian employers look optimistically at the second half of the year, predicting a 1.4% growth in employment as over 8,400 new jobs are to be added in the economy.

Central bank upgrades forecast for 2017
 Slovenia’s central bank has preserved its projection of Slovenia’s economic growth for this year unchanged at 1.9%, while upgrading the forecast for 2017 to 2.5% from 2.2% in its autumn outlook.


Review of latest GDP forecasts for Slovenia
 Following 2.9% growth in 2015, Slovenia’s economy is forecast by domestic and foreign institutions to post growth rates ranging from 1.5% to 2.0% this year, while slightly more robust growth, that of up to 2.5%, is forecast for 2017.

Daily suspects govt paving way for Koper port privatisation
 The regional daily Primorske novice finds no convincing grounds for the overhaul of the Luka Koper supervisory board, saying in Tuesday’s commentary that some guesswork is required and that potential plans for a privatisation of the port come to mind as a fair guess.


Albania’s 70-year-old stadium being replaced in 3 years
 The destruction of 70-year old Qemal Stafa Stadium in Albania has begun to make way for a new 22,300-seat National Arena.


No Agreement on Bosnia’s Coordination Mechanism
 Bosnian authorities failed to reach an agreement on a coordinated management system for the government, a discord that could cost the country a chance at EU candidacy.


Croatian PM refuses to resign despite coalition party pressure
 Croatia’s technocrat Prime Minister Tihomir Oreskovic said on Friday he had no plans to resign under pressure from the conservative HDZ party, the biggest in the ruling coalition

Is ‘illiberal democracy’ spreading to Croatia?
 Even before the 1991–95 war of independence which liberated them from the old Yugoslavia, the people of Croatia bristled if outsiders labelled their country part of the Balkans.

Croatia Entering this Tourist Season with 40 New Hotels
 Croatia is experiencing an investment boom in tourism despite the less than optimistic political situation.

Croatian PM faces no-confidence vote
 Croatian Prime Minister Tihomir Oreškovic’s future hangs in the balance after the largest party in the governing coalition on Tuesday announced plans to call a no-confidence vote in his leadership.

In Croatia, You’ll Finally No Longer Need the Stamp of Approval
 The pounding of official stamps has sounded out the rhythm of bureaucracy in Croatia for decades, well after many other European nations had stopped relying on paper and went digital. Practically any government or business document in the country has required some sort of official seal or endorsement.

Croatian PM calls on coalition leaders to resign
 Croatia’s government has been in place for just over four months, but it’s now in danger of collapsing over a business influence scandal combined with blowback over accusations that senior figures are dabbling in wartime nationalist nostalgia.


With 1 million passengers, BP Airport sets record for May
 One million passengers travelled through Budapest Airport last month, making it the busiest May on record for the airport, which hit the milestone two months earlier than last year, according to a press release posted on Budapest Airport’s official website yesterday.


Macedonian Ex-PM Gruevski Back on Suspect List
 After the scrapping of presidential pardons for top politicians, Macedonia’s former Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski and his ministers are back on the Special Prosecution’s list of suspects to probe.

Survey: Macedonians Lose Faith as Crisis Escalates
 People are losing trust in Macedonia’s institutions as political instability increases, according to a new opinion poll carried out by the International Republican Institute.

German envoy urges Macedonian leaders to agree on new election date
 In an EU-brokered deal last year, Macedonia’s political parties agreed to hold an early election and also agreed that a special prosecutor should investigate allegations that former prime minister Nikola Gruevski and his close allies authorized eavesdropping on more than 20,000 people.

Macedonia’s President Ivanov revokes all pardons in wiretap scandal
 Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov has revoked all of the pardons he granted to officials implicated in a wiretapping scandal. The president had halted investigations into 56 officials, prompting widespread condemnation.

Police Secure Montenegrin Resort of Kotor After Violence
 Police will maintain a high profile in Kotor to prevent more armed clashes between drug gangs although the interior ministry said that the situation in the town has calmed down.Montenegrin Interior Minister Goran Danilovic said on Thursday that the public in Kotor is no longer in danger and the gang killings have stopped, but vowed to keep u the police presence in the town after the recent violence. “

On Monday [], the Interior Ministry warned that the situation in Kotor was “alarming” after violence between criminal gangs caused it to deploy anti-terrorist officers to the coastal town.


Romanian Social Democrats Win Local Elections
 The leftist Social Democrat Party, PSD, came out on top in the local elections in Romania, according to exit polls, but voter turnout was low at 48.4 per cent.


Romanian Mayors Re-Elected Despite Corruption Probes
 More than a quarter of the recently elected mayors of Romania’s 41 counties are under investigation or have been placed under preventative arrest over corruption charges.


 Belgrade Protest Movement Takes to the Streets
 A growing protest movement, originally organized against the Belgrade Waterfront project, is spreading, fuelled by frustration with much larger grievances.

 Average monthly salary in Serbia “first time” over EUR 400
 The average salary in Serbia has crossed the EUR 400 mark “for the first time” amounting to EUR 401 in April, Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said on Wednesday.

World Bank upgrades 2017 GDP growth forecast for Serbia
 The World Bank has upgraded its 2017 GDP growth forecast for Serbia, leaving the 2016 forecast unchanged.

Serbia, everybody’s darling, burning candle at both ends
 Serbia is engaging in military exercises with Russia and NATO, closer relations with the EU and trading with the Eurasian Union. Serbia is sitting between two chairs. But is that the smart tactic?

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