Balkan News 05.10.2006

Montenegro‘s Djukanovic to step down

PODGORICA, Montenegro — Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic, who led his country through the conflicts of the 1990s to eventual independence, has decided to step down. The move comes on the heels of an impressive election victory by the Djukanovic-led Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) and its allies.
President Filip Vujanovic announced the resignation on Tuesday (October 3rd). He said Djukanovic’s reasons for stepping down were personal and his decision was final, although he planned to keep his post of party chairman. DPS leaders will meet on Thursday to nominate a new candidate for prime minister.

French Senate ratifies EU Accession Treaty of Bulgaria and Romania

PARIS, France — France’s senate ratified the EU Accession Treaty of Bulgaria and Romania on Tuesday (October 3rd), according to separate announcements from Sofia and Bucharest. That leaves just three EU member states that have not ratified it yet — Belgium, Denmark and Germany. Accession is scheduled for January 1st.

Albania‘s Berisha calls for Kosovo’s independence

STRASBOURG, France — Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha told the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe that Kosovo should be given independence from Serbia. He added that since it was unlikely Kosovo’s ethnic Albanians and Serbia could ever reach an agreement, a solution should be imposed.
Meanwhile, both the United States and the EU commented on the inclusion, in the new draft Serbian constitution, of language describing Kosovo as an integral part of Serbia. Neither Kosovo nor Serbia has the authority to decide the issue unilaterally, said US State Department spokesman Tom Casey. “This is an issue which has to be clarified with the UN Security Council,” a spokeswoman for EU security chief Javier Solana said.¼br />

Turkish man hijacks passenger plane

ANKARA, Turkey — A man who hijacked a plane Tuesday (October 3rd) during a regular flight from Tirana to Istanbul forced it to land at Brindisi, Italy and surrendered to police. None of the 113 passengers aboard was injured. Istanbul Governor Muammer Guler said the suspect was a deserter from the Turkish Army who had fled to Albania and was seeking asylum in Italy. The governor and other officials denied earlier reports that the hijacking was in protest of the pope’s planned visit to Turkey. Passengers said the man apologised to them for the inconvenience before releasing them in Brindisi.

UN prosecutor criticises Serbia’s moves regarding Mladic

BELGRADE, Serbia — UN tribunal chief prosecutor Carla del Ponte left Belgrade on Tuesday (October 3rd) without approving Serbia’s much publicised plan for the arrest of Ratko Mladic. “I must tell you I am not satisfied about the implementation of the action plan,” she said. Del Ponte went on to add that she would not present a positive report on Serbia to the EU later this month. The EU will use her report as a basis for deciding whether to resume negotiations with Belgrade on a Stabilisation and Association Agreement.
Among those meeting with del Ponte was Rasim Ljajic, chairman of the national council for co-operation with The Hague tribunal. He later told the local TV Pink that “some operative data” about Mladic’s location was presented to del Ponte, but did not elaborate.¼br />

Macedonia’s Gruevski discusses border demarcation with UNMIK’s Ruecker

SKOPJE, Macedonia — The border demarcation between Macedonia and Kosovo should be completed before Kosovo’s final status is determined, Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski and UNMIK chief Joachim Ruecker agreed on Tuesday (October 3rd) in Skopje. Gruevski also told Ruecker that, given the sensitive period ahead for Kosovo, strict monitoring of the shared border must be conducted to prevent criminal or radical groups from provoking new tensions.
In other news, the main opposition party, the Social Democratic Alliance of Macedonia (SDSM) announced it would hold a confidence vote Saturday regarding leader Vlado Buckovski. At issue is SDSM’s poor showing in the recent parliamentary elections.
Separately, SDSM and the ruling VMRO-DPMNE, among others, were cited on Tuesday for campaign financing irregularities. Evidence of over-spending will be sent to parliament, the cabinet and state auditors.

Greek opposition leader Papandreou raises prospect of early elections

ATHENS, Greece — The leader of the main opposition party PASOK, George Papandreou, again raised the possibility of early parliamentary elections, during a meeting of his party’s parliamentary caucus Tuesday (October 3rd). Papandreou expressed concern over the direction Greece is heading, accusing the current New Democracy-led government of Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis of failing to combat corruption. He described the October 15th local elections as a “crucial battle” his party must win.

Latest results suggest 12 parties will be represented in BiH parliament

SARAJEVO, Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) — The latest partial results of Sunday’s general elections, released by the Central Election Commission on Tuesday (October 3rd), suggest that a total of 12 parties won seats in the BiH Parliament’s House of Representatives. Seven of them are from the Federation of BiH: the Party for Democratic Action, the Party for BiH, the Social Democratic Party, the Croatian Democratic Union-Croatian Coalition-Croatian National Community alliance, the Croatian Union, the BiH Patriotic Party and the People’s Party. Five parties from Republika Srprska won seats in the BiH parliament, including the Union of Independent Social Democrats, the Serb Democratic Party, the Party of Democratic Progress, the Democratic National Alliance and the Serb Radical Party.

PACE adopts resolution urging clear EU road map for Western Balkans

STRASBOURG, France — The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) adopted a resolution Tuesday (October 3rd), urging the international community and the EU in particular to assume greater responsibility for the democratic development of the Western Balkans. The document stressed the need for a “clear road map for EU integration” and urged the EU to remove the current visa restrictions on countries in the region.
Prior to the adoption of the resolution, the PACE deputies heard speeches by Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha and his BiH counterpart, Adnan Terzic. Both expressed concerns that Europe was losing interest in the Western Balkan hopefuls.

Basescu hints of possible government changes after Romania‘s EU entry

BUCHAREST, Romania — President Traian Basescu has suggested that a regrouping within the ruling coalition and the election of a new government is quite possible after Romania’s EU accession in January. During a TV statement broadcast on Monday (October 2nd), Basescu said it is not advantageous to keep the current coalition, as the Conservative Party gets barely 2% of public support, according to recent polls. Basescu voiced his belief that a restructured minority cabinet would be the best possible solution.

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