Slovenia confirms new government; Croatia’s shipmaker in more trouble; Serbia signs major deals with Chinese; Skripal suspects linked to Montenegro attempted coup #september #hottopicsAdriatic Journal 28 September 2018
Slovenia’s parliament confirmed in September Prime Minister Marjan Šarec’s centre-left coalition as the country’s first minority government, following the inconclusive general election in June. Forty-five deputies in the 90-seat parliament voted in favour of the new cabinet, 34 were against, while 11 abstained or were absent. Šarec, a former provincial mayor, comedian and actor, became prime minister-designate last month after the centre-right Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS) failed to forge a coalition despite winning most votes in June’s election. According to Šarec, the new government would be “a guarantee for a stable economic environment that is kind to investment”. He vowed improving the national health system and cutting red tape would be his government’s priorities. Šarec’s party, List of Marjan Šarec (LMŠ) is in coalition with four other centre-left parties: the Social Democrats, the Party of the Modern Centre, the Party of Alenka Bratušek and the pensioners’ party Desus. They account for 43 of parliament’s 90 seats. The opposition Left party, which has nine seats, has pledged to support the minority government on key policies. Outgoing premier Miro Cerar is the new foreign minister, replacing Karl Erjavec who became defence minister. Economist Andrej Bertoncelj takes the finance portfolio.
Rijeka shipyard, 3rd May, in Croatia is in danger of having no valid contracts as soon as next month. Canadian company Algoma has cancelled two new construction orders while the future is uncertain of another two that are already under construction. If 3rd May doesn’t secure finance that would enable it to purchase materials to finalise the work on the remaining vessels, the Canadian company is likely to cancel those, too. This comes amid the decision by the Norwegian company Siem to cancel three orders, with only one remaining for a vessel that is 70% constructed. However, Novi List reports it is unclear where the finance to complete this order will come from. The ship maker is not only losing contracts but staff also. Predrag Knežević from the syndicate committee for salvation of 3rd May said that as many as 49 workers left the shipyard just this month, and most of those are highly qualified, Novi List reports.
Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić, met with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping during his recent visit to China to attend a business forum in Tianjin. Praising the relations between China and Serbia, Xi said the two countries have seen beneficial outcomes of pragmatic cooperation. He added China is willing to work with Serbia to support each other on issues involving each country’s interests and concerns, and jointly safeguard multilateralism and international justice. Xi mentioned a good cooperation between China’s Hebei Iron and Steel Group and Serbian Smederevo steel plant, a project that has become Serbia’s second-largest exporter. He added that China and Serbia should join hands in the Belt and Road construction, and synergize their development strategies to deepen bilateral cooperation and better benefit the two nations. Vučić said the revival of the Smederevo steel plant served as a strong evidence that the Belt and Road Initiative contributed to an increase of jobs and economic growth in Serbia. He said Serbia will actively participate in the initiative and explore new cooperation areas with China under the China-Central and Eastern European Countries cooperation framework. During the two-day visit, Serbian officials signed agreements with China worth $3 billion, which includes a $900m worth contract with the China’s Shandong Linglong Tire Co to build a factory in the northern Serbian city of Zrenjanin, and also with the Chinese company Zijin Mining Group which will, as a strategic partner, invest $1.46bn in the Serbian RTB-Bor mines over the next six years.
British newspaper, the Daily Telegraph, wrote last month that there are clear links between suspects in Sergey Skripal poisoning in England and the alleged plotters behind a coup in Montenegro in 2016. The publication cites the research by the investigative journalist organisation Bellingcat which found there are only 26 intervening passport numbers between Aleksander Petrov’s document – one of the two Russians suspected by Britain to have poisoned Skripal and his daughter Yulia – and the cover passport for Col Shishmakov, “who was organising the coup before Montenegro’s elections in October 2016 under the alias Eduard Shirokov”. It further points out that Shirokov was issued the passport in August 2016, “suggesting that the special authority which issued it had only granted 26 passports from April 2016, when Petrov started travelling.” Britain has dismissed claims by the opposition in Montenegro that the attempted coup was faked by the ruling party, accepting the government’s claims that Russia was behind it.