Hot topics: Slovenian Prime Minister resigns; Croatia one of the most popular destinations; North Macedonian PM resignsAdriatic Journal 29 January 2020
Author: Ana Potočnik
Slovenian Prime Minister resigns
Marjan Šarec, Slovenia’s prime minister, has quit in a bid to push for snap elections. Šarec’s reason for resignation is that the minority coalition of five centre-left parties struggled to get legislation through the parliament. His announcement came after the resignation of his finance minister, Andrej Bertoncelj. Šarec denied that Bertoncelj’s resignation had anything to do with his decision to step down. “Leading the government, I have come to realise that I cannot meet the high expectations with a minority government. Others are on the move.”
Croatia one of the most popular destinations
At the New York Times Travel Show Croatia was among the most sought-after travel destinations, according to the market surveys and bookings announced by leading travel organisations, the Croatian Tourism Board (HTZ) announced in January. Croatian regions that took part in the show were the City of Zagreb and the Counties of Dubrovnik-Neretva, Split-Dalmatia, Zadar and Lika-Senj. In 2019, 655,000 US tourists had visited Croatia, generating 1.8 million overnight stays, an annual increase of 12%, according to HTZ. The New York Times Travel show features over 700 exhibitors from 175 countries and attracts over 35,000 visitors, which makes it the largest travel show in North America.
The bankrupt shipyard to liquidate assets
The meeting of creditors of Croatia’s shipbuilding company Uljanik decided at the court in Pazin that the shipyard’s parent company did not meet the conditions to continue operations and should be liquidated. Uljanik’s debt exceeded EUR 652m, while the company’s assets were estimated at EUR 235m, official receiver Marija Ružić said in a press conference. She mentioned the possibility of establishing a new company to which the shipbuilding equipment and the concession of the Pula shipyard could be transferred. She emphasized that although the joint-stock company Uljanik as a legal entity will cease to exist, that does not mean the other Uljanik companies that are already bankrupt cannot be the core of a possible new company. In fact, the court decided to delay the sale of part of the company’s assets to enable the revival of the shipbuilding industry in Pula. The unions are expecting the next move by the Croatian government, Uljanik’s majority creditor, hoping it will come up with a business plan for a new company.
Macedonian documentary gets two Oscar nominations
Honeyland, North Macedonia’s submission for the 92nd Academy Awards, was nominated for both the Best Documentary and Best Foreign Film categories, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) announced in January. The film, shot over three years in a small village near North Macedonia’s capital Skopšje, follows the life of Hatidze Muratova, a woman described as “Europe’s last female wild beekeeper”. Directed by Tamara Kotevska and Ljubomir Stefanov, the film was praised for its poetic visuals, premiering at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2019, before getting theatrical releases in the US and the UK later in the year. The film is only the second Macedonian film since the breakup of Yugoslavia to get a nomination in the Best Foreign Film category – after the 1994 star-studded feature Before the Rain – and only the third such nomination in 30 years for a former Yugoslav country, along with Bosnia’s 2001 feature No Man’s Land, which is to date the only winning film from the region.
North Macedonian PM resigns
A transitional government took over in North Macedonia at the beginning of January, after the resignation of Zoran Zaev, the country’s prime minister. Zaev’s resignation is part of preparations for snap elections on 12 April, which are being called after the European Union failed to set a date to open accession negotiations.
Serbia likely to ban imports of Euro 3 cars
Serbia will follow suit of countries in the region to ban the import of cars that comply only with Euro 3 emissions standards. Serbian media reports that this may come into effect in June this year. Following criticisms that Serbia is importing a disproportionate number of high-polluting cars, the government is considering putting a halt on further imports of vehicles that meet EU emission standards set for 2000-2005. In an interview with the public broadcaster RTS, Serbian president Aleksandar Vučić said that imports of Euro 3 cars should be banned but that those who already own such cars will not have them confiscated.
Serbia is the only country in the region that has not yet banned the import of Euro 3 cars
Serbia most polluted country in Europe
Serbia has been ranked 1st in Europe and 9th in the world on the pollution index, according to the Global Alliance for Health and Pollution (GAHP) latest report. The report cites that each year in Serbia 175 people per 100,000 die as a consequences of pollution. In 2017, more than 12,000 people died of pollution-related causes. With majority falling ill because of air pollution, while lead poisoning and polluted water where also cited as causes of death.
Agreement signed to restore Belgrade-Prishtina flights
Officials from Serbia and Kosovo signed an agreement in January that will allow the resumption of Belgrade-Prishtina flights after more than 20 years. A letter of intent was signed in the US Embassy in Berlin in the presence of the US ambassador Richard Grenell and US National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien. Eset Berisha, CEO of the Kosovo Civil Aviation Authority said the letter of intent “puts the two civil aviation authorities into contact as equal partners”, adding that this is the first step to full normalization of Kosovo’s airspace. Lufthansa’s Eurowings company will fly between Belgrade and Pristina once Serbia and Kosovo remove all obstacles. Head of Serbia’s Government Office for Kosovo Marko Djurić told Serbian state TV that flights between the Serbian capital and Prishtina could resume once the 100% tariffs on Serbian goods imposed by the Kosovo authorities are revoked and the Belgrade-Prishtina dialogue continues. He cited that currently there are 12 buses a day that link Belgrade and Prishtina.
Serbia’s foreign currency reserves over EUR 13bn
Gross foreign currency reserves in the National Bank of Serbia (NBS) were EUR 13.378,5s at the end of last year, highest since 2000, the NBS said. The reserves were EUR 2.1bn higher in 2019, mostly due to the NBS policy of buying Euros in the domestic market.
Prostests against recently adopted law on religious communities in Montenegro
The Montenegrin parliament adopted the law on religious communities in Montenegro just before the new year, drawing a lot of criticism from the Serbian Orthodox Church and pro-Serbian institutions in the country. Critics claim that the new law will allow the authorities to seize Serbian Orthodox Church properties in Montenegro where it owns 66 medieval monasteries, dozens of churches and other property. The Montenegrin government, on the other hand, says that it does not intend to expropriate any religious community. The draft law on religious freedom and the legal status of religious communities, however, stipulates that they must prove ownership of buildings before 1918, when Montenegro joined the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes.