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Guardian: In addition to Montenegro, Russia stoking discord in Macedonia

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The documents obtained by the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) suggests that Russia has played a very invasive role in the countries of former Yugoslavia, also to prevent them from being too involved in the gravitational orbit of NATO. The Guardian also comes to very similar conclusions. The most striking example in this sense is the one of Macedonia, where the country’s Social Democrat leader, Zoran Zaev, was sworn in as prime minister, after six months of political crisis. He, who is part of a center-left coalition supported by two ethnic Albanian groups, affirmed that he wants to fight corruption and want to bring Macedonia into NATO. The Macedonian nationalists have given rise to very violent protests against him. This, according to studies, is part of some intelligence operations triggered by Russia since 2008 to prevent the Balkans from approaching too much NATO.  But The Guardian said that on NATO, the Kremlin has experienced setbacks. In April, Montenegro’s parliament voted to become the military alliance’s newest member. Bosnia and Herzegovina are candidates for entry. Even Serbia has deepened ties with NATO, even if the resentment many Serbs feel towards the alliance is not easy to hide because of  the war of 1990s.

Serbia Boosts Security Cooperation With Russia

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Serbia will continue to pursue close security cooperation with Russia in order to protect Serbia’s own national interests, in particular amid increasingly aggressive rhetoric from Kosovo Albanian politicians. Nobody can stop Serbia from cooperating with Russia in order to protect its national interests, Serbian Minister of Internal Affairs Nebojsa Stefanovic told Sputnik Srbija after returning from a trip to Russia last week. Stefanovic took part in a security conference in the city of Tver and met with Nikolai Patrushev, Secretary of the Russian Federation Security Council. The politicians signed a bilateral agreement on greater cooperation between Serbia’s Minister of Internal Affairs and the Russian Federal Security Service. “We want to cooperate with Russia as well as all other countries. On the other hand, I never heard for example China or Russia object to cooperation with other EU countries or the USA and so I think that kind of fear is unfounded.” Serbs are scared that Albanian politician in Kosovo want to invade Serbia to create what they call a “Greater Albania”. So, the agreement between Russia and Serbia on security cooperation could prevent this scenario some way (on the serbs point of view). The more the Kosovo general elections come closer, the more the tensions rise between these two countries.

Kushner ties to Russia questioned as Trump blasts media lies

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Congressional Democrats on Sunday demanded to hear directly from top White House adviser Jared Kushner over allegations of proposed secret back-channel communications with Russia, saying the security clearance of President Donald Trump’s son-in-law may need to be revoked. Trump, having returned from a nine-day overseas trip, immediately railed against administration leaks, calling them “fabricated lies”, in a flurry of tweets. And his Homeland Security head defended the idea of establishing that kind of communication as a “smart thing” and said he didn’t see “any big issue here” for Kushner. But to the top Democrat on the House intelligence committee, it’s “obviously very concerning” that a key Trump campaign figure was possibly seeking secret communications with a country that intelligence experts say intervened in the 2016 election.

 

Darmanovic: Russia’s involvement surprised us

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Minister of Foreign Affairs Srdjan Darmanovic was surprised by the strong involvement of Russia in Montenegro’s internal affairs. It refers in particular to the support that, in his opinion, Russian intelligence has given to anti-NATO oppositions within Montenegro. He stressed that Montenegro’s involvement within NATO is not an aggressive assault against any country, including Russia: in fact, as he added, Podgorica keeps having strong commercial relations with Moscow and also economically under different profiles, such as the tourist one. He stressed that the Balkan area is heading towards NATO, with particular reference to Albania, and towards the European Union.

Trump pledges to move quickly to nominate new FBI chief

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President Donald Trump said on Saturday he will move quickly to nominate a new FBI director, after he sparked a political firestorm by firing the man investigating possible collusion between Russia and the Trump presidential campaign. Trump told reporters he might even be able to make his decision on who should succeed James Comey to lead the Federal Bureau of Investigation before he departs on his first foreign trip late next week.

Palestinian leader lauds Trump’s Mideast peace efforts

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Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas welcomed U.S. President Donald Trump’s efforts to negotiate a Middle East peace deal, declaring that the Palestinians were ready to cooperate with Trump’s efforts to broker a regional peace agreement. Last week, the Palestinian Authority president met Trump in Washington. The Palestinian leader made a similar statement on Tuesday, following a meeting with German President FrankWalter Steinmeier in Ramallah. “I stressed to President Trump that under his auspices I am open to cooperating and to meeting with the Israeli prime minister in order to make peace”, Abbas told reporters. “I pledged our full cooperation in the war on terror and extremism in our region and across the globe”. Putin also said Thursday Russia will continue efforts to help restore direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians. After their meeting, Putin and Abbas praised bilateral relations as they dedicated a cultural center in Bethlehem via video conference. According to the WAFA Palestinian news agency, the construction of the new venue, named Putin Palestinian Foundation for Culture and Economics, cost $40 million.The center is meant to promote cultural exchange between the Russians and the Palestinians.

Trump warns ousted FBI chief against talking to media, threatens ‘tapes’

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Donald Trump warned ousted FBI Director James Comey on Friday not to talk to the media, a highly unusual move that prompted fresh charges the president is trying to silence the man who led an investigation into possible collusion between Trump’s election campaign and Russia. On Twitter, Trump appeared to suggest that if Comey gave his version of contacts between them, the administration might produce tapes of conversations, although it was not clear if such tapes exist. The veiled threat added to the storm over Trump’s abrupt firing of Comey on Tuesday. Critics have assailed Trump for dismissing the FBI chief at a time when the agency is investigating alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election, and possible Moscow ties to the Trump presidential campaign.

Boskovic: Montenegro’s membership in NATO is not directed against Russia

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Defence Minister Predrag Boskovic said during a meeting with the Slovenian defence minister that Montenegro’s membership in NATO is not directed against Russia. He also said that Russia is keeping on influence his country’s policy but he is optimistic about the development of relations between countries. Slovenian ministers Katic agreed with him and said that Montenegro’s membership could improve the situations and issues in western Balkans, and also it will contribute to peace in that area. The two ministers were satisfied about relations between their countries, too.

 

 

Iran, Russia and Turkey examine document on reducing conflict in Syria

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The Islamic Republic of Iran, Russia and Turkey on Thursday examined details of a new document on ‘reduced-conflict districts in Syria’. Delegations from Iran, Russia and Turkey met in Astana on Thursday to study the document. Iranian delegation led by Hossein Jaberi Ansari met delegations from Russia and Turkey in Astana to exchange views on the latest developments in Syria. During the four-hour meeting, the participants examined details of the new document focusing on “reduced-conflict districts in Syria’. These delegations will also study the plan for the last public meeting in Astana. According to the declared timetable, the public meeting on Syrian developments is to be held this afternoon. According to the released information, these four districts have been identified as Idlib, North of Homs, Eastern Ghouta and south of Syria. The fourth Astana talks on Syria hosting Iran, Russia and Turkey kicked off in Astana on Wednesday.

Merkel meets Putin to discuss crises in Syria and Ukraine.

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel has begun talks with President Vladimir Putin on her first visit to Russia since 2015. The meeting, at Mr Putin’s summer residence in Sochi, comes with bilateral relations in a trough over the war in Syria and Russia’s annexation of Crimea. They are to discuss both issues but no breakthroughs are expected. He will then meet Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday. “Of course, we cannot but take advantage of this visit and discuss bilateral relations and the most problematic points, by which I mean Ukraine, Syria and possibly some other regions”, Putin said at the start of the talks with Mrs Merkel, quoted by Russia’s Interfax news agency.

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