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Bulgaria is on its Way to the Eurozone

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”Bulgaria is on its way to the eurozone”, Valdis Dombrovskis, EC Vice-President and European Commissioner for the Euro and Social Dialogue, said at the presentation of recommendations to Bulgaria in the framework of European Semester 2017. He pointed at significant imbalances in the economy since 2015, including the high corporate debt. On the other hand, Bulgarian authorities have taken measures in response to recommendations on the pension sector in 2016. There is a high level of outstanding debt. The measures, necessary in the banking sector, should be taken more quickly. Regarding debt collection, things there will also be improved, according to Dombrovskis. With regard to the eurozone, Dombrovskis said there are nominal exchange criteria. “We have discussed this issue. Some aspects look pretty well. You are walking towards the eurozone. You need to join the exchange rate mechanism”, he added.

The EU: a Million BAM for 250 new Jobs in BiH

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The European Union funded the Local Integrated Development” (LID) project, which is implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Bosnia and Herzegovina: it has the aim of supporting technological development and implementation of new investments in small and medium industries. The granting of a loan of 1.6 million is aimed at increasing competitiveness, creating new jobs and widening the market. Ms. Genoveva Ruiz Calavera, Director for the Western Balkans at the Directorate-General for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations of the European Commission, said that this plan will allow internal authorities to improve the country’s living standards.

 

Yemeni army readies plans to liberate cities under Houthis control

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Chief of Staff of Yemeni armed forces, al-Maqdashi has been waiting for nod of minister in order to conduct some military operations in Houthis controlled areas. Al-Madqashi, in fact, has said they have drawn up a plan to set free the remaining cities from Houthis controll, including Houdaydah city port. This plan depends on the ability of military forces in combating and carrying out operations. There are two different situations: from one side Houthis and rebels are going through a period of weakness and disintegration, on the other side, the Yemeni National forces are taking control over some presidential buildings and check points. Their stronger positions are in Taiz and Nehm, where national forces have imposed a siege.

 

 

Serbia and UN ink Development Partnership Framework

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The Development Partnership Framework between the Serbian government and the UN Country Team for the period from 2016 to 2020 has been signed in Belgrade. The document was inked by First Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic and UN Resident Coordinator in Serbia Karla Robin Hershey. The Development Partnership Framework is “fully aligned with the national development priorities of the Serbian government, as well as with the process of pre-accession negotiations between Serbia and the European Union and the UN Agenda for sustainable development by 2030”. The estimated value of the program of activities for a five-year period covered by the Development Partnership Framework amounts to USD 170 million. Dacic said he hoped that through the joint work of Serbian ministries, offices and agencies of the UN system, the Development Partnership Framework will be successfully put into practice, in the interest of all citizens of Serbia.

KDP plans to reactivate Kurdistan Region parliament without Speaker

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Efforts to resolve the Kurdistan Region’s political crisis and reactivate parliament in advance of an anticipated referendum on independence are stagnated. The Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) is hopeful that parliament can sit in June in the absence of the parliament speaker, but most other parties are not on board with the KDP’s plan. “There is good understating with respect to the question of reactivating the parliament. I therefore think the parliament will be reactivated in a month”, Jaafar Ibrahim, KDP politburo member and deputy speaker of Kurdistan’s parliament, told Rudaw in a recent interview. According to information obtained by Rudaw, the KDP parliamentary bloc, in coordination with MPs from the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and minority representatives, wants to hold a parliamentary session from June to September, on the basis of the legislature’s by-laws, in order to hold a referendum on independence. The Change Movement (Gorran) and the PUK have both stated that a referendum can be called only by the parliament. “The parliament has two sessions per year. The first session starts at the beginning of March and ends at the end of June. The second one commences at the beginning of September and ends at the end of December”, article 5 of the parliamentary by-laws states. After the KDP prevented the speaker of Kurdistan’s parliament and Gorran party member, Dr. Yusif Mohammed, from entering Erbil on October 12, 2015, the KDP has several times hinted at annulling its political agreement with Gorran, which was ratified on April 17, 2014. This agreement entitled the Gorran party to hold the position of parliament speaker and four ministerial positions along with a body within the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). Article 16, section 2 of the parliament’s by-laws addresses the vacancy of the position of parliament speaker: “In the event the position of parliament speaker, his deputy or that of the parliament’s secretary, becomes vacant for any reason, the parliament will elect replacements to them in its first session after these or one of these positions had become vacant, according to the text of these by-laws”. The ensuing steps are mentioned in section 1 of article 6 in the parliament by-laws: “The speaker of parliament or one fourth of its members has the right to call for an emergency session which will focus on the subjects mentioned in the call for the meeting”. According to the parliament by-laws, a parliamentary emergency meeting requires the signatures of 28 MPs. According to the amended election law of 1992, however, holding a session to discuss a specific subject requires signatures of one third of MPs. In the case of the current parliament, it would require signatures of 37 MPs. In the presence of this law, the parliament will not depend on its by-laws. The KDP can call for this session on its own as it has 38 MPs.“The parliament has two options: either holding elections on time, or extending its legal term. In addition to the question of reactivating the parliament, there is also the question of the fourth parliamentary term nearing its end,” Shwan Ahmed, KDP MP and member of the parliament’s law committee, said. “If the parliament cannot be reactivated through reaching an agreement on the question, the oldest MP can chair the session, according to the law. And this is because the parliament’s presidential body [speaker] hasn’t been able to discharge his duties. However, the KDP wants to settle this question through dialogue. Otherwise, the best solution is holding snap elections or holding elections on time. And we as a party have made preparations for this”, Ahmed added. According to article 10 of the parliament by-laws, the first parliamentary session will be chaired by the oldest MP. This is in favor of the KDP, as the oldest MP of this term is KDP member Mohammed Sadiq. Gorran: This way of reopening parliament will further deepen the crises. A Gorran party MP has said that reactivating the parliament this way will further complicate the problems of the Kurdistan Region. “The parliament’s chairing staff is not on leave or absent. Rather, the speaker of parliament was barred from going back to his place to execute his duties. Hence, any attempt to hold an emergency session in the absence of parliament’s chairing body will further deepen the political crisis”, Bahar Mahmud, an MP with the Gorran party, told Rudaw. Bahar Mahmud is also deputy head of the parliament’s law committee. “Calling for an emergency session is a legitimate request if it is made by one third of the MPs, providing that the request is made by the chairing body. And the chairing body is not dead yet”, Mahmud said, adding that there is no need to resort to the oldest member chairing the session. After the oldest person is called upon to chair the session, according to article 22 of the parliament by-laws, the provisional speaker, after being sworn in, will call for candidates for the position of parliament speaker, his deputy, and parliament secretary. This way, the parliament will be reactivated, a source from the KDP faction told Rudaw. An obstacle for holding this session is a potential lack of MPs attending the session. According to article 4 of the amended parliament by-laws, a parliamentary session is illegal if the majority of the MPs are absent. In order for the session to be able to go ahead in the absence of the parliament’s current chairing body, 56 MPs should attend the session. The PUK does not see the KDP’s plan as a potential resolution to the problem. “I predict the situation will remain the same. It is unlikely the parties will be prepared to make concessions for the sake of reaching a national agreement. Resorting to the practice of majority or minority of MPs to reactivate the parliament will create more divisions, and will not help resolve the crises,” Salar Mahmud, an MP with the PUK, said. The Islamic Union’s position is that parliament cannot sit in the absence of its current speaker.  “The session cannot be held in the absence of current chairing body. And this is because the chairing body has not been removed in a vote. They are alive. Holding an emergency session is therefore unlikely”, Abu Bakr Haladni, head of the Islamic Union’s bloc in the Kurdistan Region’s parliament, said. The deputy speaker of Kurdistan’s parliament has told some MPs that all possible ways have reached deadlock. That is why holding elections in November this year is a strong possibility, Haladni added.

 

Commission sets out possible ways forward for the deepening of Europe's Economic and Monetary Union

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Today, Vice-President Dombrovskis and Commissioner Moscovici presented the Reflection Paper on Deepening the Economic and Monetary Union. Following the Commission’s White Paper on the Future of Europe presented on 1 March, the Commission now sets out possible ways forward for deepening Europe’s Economic and Monetary Union. Today’s reflection paper builds on the Five Presidents’ Report of June 2015 and is intended both to stimulate the debate on the Economic and Monetary Union and to help reach a shared vision of its future design. Paying due attention to the debates in Member States and to the views of other EU institutions, the paper sets out concrete steps that could be taken by the European elections in 2019, as well as a series of options for the following years, when the architecture of the Economic and Monetary Union would be completed. The options proposed in the reflection paper are intended to help build a broad consensus on how to take on the challenges ahead and to give a fresh impetus to this important debate.

Iran vows to back Afghanistan following Kabul blast

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Iran’s FM spokesman while slamming Wed. terrorist attack near Afghanistan’s diplomatic zone, said Iran will always stand by the Afghan nation and government during difficult times. Bahram Ghasemi expressed condolences to the Afghan government and nation as well as the families of victims over a huge suicide bomb attack near the diplomatic area in Kabul on Wednesday morning, which killed at least 80 people and injured 300 others. Ghasemi voiced hope that political initiatives and talks between Afghan groups without intervention from certain regional and trans-regional countries accused of arming terrorists will raise a wall against such violent, inhumane acts that have targeted peace and stability in Afghanistan. “Terrorist attacks are condemned and unacceptable and must be responded to no matter where they occur or by which group or under whatever pretext”, Ghasemi stressed. He went on to add, “the suicide attack in Kabul this morning was another warning that negligence in combating terrorism and the continuation of support from certain countries in the region have caused a wide spread of such heinous acts in recent weeks”. “It is imperative that all peace-seeking countries give considerable attention to the issue of extremism, its roots, its promoters and sponsors”, he said.

 

U.N. envoy: we succeeded in preventing a military operations in Houdaydah

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During the session organized by Security Council, it was reported by Ahmed, UN envoy to Yemen, people are constantly attacked by Houthis Militias and in addition to this he has elencaed several zones, where there is a spread of landmines and weapons, used by Houthis Militias loyal to Ousted President. Meanwhile, O’Brien, head of office for Humanitarian affairs and Emergency Relief Coordination has said many civilians are being killed due to war and cholera disease. He has also said by reports one third of victims are children. The economy is decreasing and fuel and food prices are constantly increasing. Just one important event of this beginning week was prevention of a military operations in Houdaydah.

Venezuelan opposition condemns Goldman for $2.8 billion bond deal

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Goldman Sachs Group Inc (GS.N)’s statement that it never transacted directly with the government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro when it bought $2.8 billion of bonds for pennies on the dollar was dismissed by the country’s opposition on Tuesday as an effort to “put lipstick on this pig”. Goldman, in a statement late Monday confirming the purchase, said its asset-management arm acquired the bonds “on the secondary market from a broker and did not interact with the Venezuelan government”. The New York-based investment bank came under fire by Venezuelan politicians and protesters in New York opposed to Maduro, who say the deal nonetheless provided the cash-strapped government hundreds of millions of dollars in badly-needed hard currency. The deal, first reported by the Wall Street Journal, makes Goldman complicit in alleged human rights abuses under the government, they said.

 

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.

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