Turkish foreign visitor arrivals jump 58% in August

Turkish foreign visitor arrivals jump 58% in August

ISTANBUL, Sept 23 (Reuters) - The number of foreign visitors arriving in Turkey leapt 58.3% from a year earlier to 6.3 million in August, data showed on Friday, continuing the strong recovery from the slump which began in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The arrivals compared with 3.98 million foreign visitors in August 2021 and 1.81 million in August 2020. In the first eight months of the year, the number of foreign visitors climbed 108.5% to 29.3 million, on pace to roughly match the pre-pandemic levels of 2019. (Reporting by Nevzat Devranoglu;Writing by Daren Butler;Editing by Ali Kucukgocmen)
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Bulgaria inches closer to buying more F-16s to replace Russian jets

Bulgaria inches closer to buying more F-16s to replace Russian jets

Bulgaria inched closer to buying a second batch of eight new F-16 aircraft and related equipment from the United States in a deal valued at $1.30 billion, interim Defence Minister Dimitar Stoyanov said. The European Union and NATO member country, which had ordered eight Lockheed Martin  F-16 jets in 2019, is seeking to replace its ageing Russian MiG-29 fighter jets and improve its compliance to NATO standards. "Acquiring new aircraft is extremely important for the Bulgarian air force. We have old Soviet aircraft, which we cannot maintain because of the problems that occurred following the conflict in Ukraine," Stoyanov told…
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NATO ready to send more troops to Kosovo

NATO ready to send more troops to Kosovo

PRISTINA, (Reuters) - NATO is ready to ramp up troops in Kosovo if tensions among minority Serbs flare again as a deadline in a spat with the government over car papers approaches, 1the deputy commander of the alliance's peacekeeping mission (KFOR) said. "We are vigilant and ready to act...if we have an increase of tensions, but we can also draw on reserve forces...that we can call in at short notice," Brigadier General Luca Piperni told reporters at KFOR headquarters in the capital Pristina. Unrest among Kosovo Serbs over a requirement for them to use state-issued car number plates has raised…
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Serbia police clash with right-wing protesters at LGBTQ march

Serbia police clash with right-wing protesters at LGBTQ march

BELGRADE (Reuters) - Police clashed with right-wing protesters on Saturday as several thousand people joined an LGBTQ march in Serbia to mark the end of EuroPride week, an event staged in a different European city each year. Police clashed with two right-wing groups trying to disrupt the march, Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said, adding that 10 police officers were slightly injured, five police cars damaged and 64 protesters arrested. "I am very proud that we managed to avoid more serious incidents," Brnabic, who herself is Serbia's first gay prime minister, told reporters. Following protests by nationalists and religious groups, the…
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Turkey condemns U.S. decision on Cyprus arms embargo

Turkey condemns U.S. decision on Cyprus arms embargo

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkey's foreign ministry said on Saturday it strongly condemned the expansion of a decision taken by the United States in September 2020 to lift its arms embargo on Cyprus. The U.S. State Department said on Friday that Secretary of State Antony Blinken had lifted defence trade restrictions for Cyprus for the fiscal year 2023. The Turkish foreign ministry said this decision would "further strengthen the Greek Cypriot side's intransigence and negatively affect efforts to resettle the Cyprus issue". "It will lead to an arms race on the Island, harming peace and stability in the eastern Mediterranean," the…
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Erdogan wanted to meet Syria’s Assad

Erdogan wanted to meet Syria’s Assad

ISTANBUL, Sept 16 (Reuters) - Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan had expressed a wish to meet President Bashar al-Assad if the Syrian leader had attended a summit being held in Uzbekistan, a report in Turkey's pro-government Hurriyet newspaper said on Friday. But, he noted Assad was not attending the summit. The report came after four sources told Reuters Turkey's intelligence chief held multiple meetings with his Syrian counterpart in Damascus in recent weeks, a sign of Russian efforts to encourage a thaw between states on opposite sides of Syria's war. Hurriyet columnist Abdulkadir Selvi reported Erdogan made the comments about Assad…
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Thousands march in Belgrade against planned Gay Pride parade

Thousands march in Belgrade against planned Gay Pride parade

BELGRADE, (Reuters) - Thousands of religious and right-wing activists marched through Serbia's capital on Sunday calling for authorities to ban a Gay Pride march planned for next weekend. The protesters - who carried a massive Serbian flag - included groups who also shouted slogans backing Serbia's long-term ally Russia, as well as nationalistic and far-right causes. A column of bikers who support the policies of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russia's invasion of Ukraine, revved their engines in support of the crowds who marched to Belgrade’s St Sava cathedral for prayers. In a sermon, the head of the Serbian Orthodox…
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Turkey’s Erdogan echoes Putin’s gripes over grain exports

Turkey’s Erdogan echoes Putin’s gripes over grain exports

ISTANBUL, Sept 8 (Reuters) - Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday he wanted grain from Russia to be exported too, adding Vladimir Putin was right to complain that grain from Ukraine under a U.N.-backed deal was going to wealthy rather than poorcountries. The July grain deal aimed to avert a global food crisis by guaranteeing the safe passage of ships in and out of Ukrainian ports, allowing them to export tens of millions of tonnes of grain. The deal also facilitates Russian exports. "The fact that grain shipments are going to the countries that implement these sanctions (against Moscow)…
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UPDATED: Albanian police search empty Iranian embassy after papers burned

UPDATED: Albanian police search empty Iranian embassy after papers burned

TIRANA, Sept 8 (Reuters) - Albanian counter-terrorism police searched the empty Iranian embassy in Tirana on Thursday, hours after Iranian diplomats burned papers inside the premises following the severing of diplomatic ties over a cyberattack. Albania cut diplomatic relations with Iran on Wednesday, when Prime Minister Edi Rama blamed the cyberattack, which took place in July, on the Islamic Republic, and gave its diplomats 24 hours to close the embassy and leave the country. The police, wearing masks and helmets and carrying automatic rifles, entered the building - situated just 200 metres (yards) from Rama's office - after two cars…
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Albania cuts Iran ties, orders diplomats to go after cyber attack

Albania cuts Iran ties, orders diplomats to go after cyber attack

TIRANA, Sept 7 (Reuters) - Albania is ending diplomatic relations with Iran and has ordered Iranian diplomats and embassy staff to leave within 24 hours, after an investigation into a cyber attack in July, Prime Minister Edi Rama said on Wednesday. "The government has decided with immediate effect to end diplomatic relations with Islamic Republic of Iran," Rama said in a video statement sent to the media. "This extreme response ... is fully proportionate to the gravity and risk of the cyberattack that threatened to paralyse public services, erase digital systems and hack into state records, steal government intranet electronic…
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Erdoğan repeats threat against Greece: We can come suddenly one night

Erdoğan repeats threat against Greece: We can come suddenly one night

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Tuesday repeated his stark warning to neighbouring Greece regarding alleged airspace violations over the Aegean Sea. It is time for Athens to "pull themselves together," Erdoğan told reporters in Ankara ahead of his departure for a three-day Balkan tour. Tayyip Erdogan had already on Monday accused Greece of occupying demilitarised islands in the Aegean and said Turkey was ready to "do what is necessary" when the time came. The EU voiced concern over what it called "hostile remarks" after Turkish President Historic rivals while also fellow members of NATO, Turkey and Greece have been at odds over issues ranging from…
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Turkey’s inflation touches new 24-year high of 80.2%

Turkey’s inflation touches new 24-year high of 80.2%

ISTANBUL, Sept 5 (Reuters) - Turkey's annual inflation climbed to a fresh 24-year high of 80.21% in August, a bit below expectations according to official data,after the central bank unexpectedly cut interest rates and stoked a cost-of-living crisis. Inflation has raced higher since last autumn, when the lira slumped after the central bank gradually cut its policy rate by 500 basis points to 14% in an unorthodox easing cycle sought by President Tayyip Erdogan. Despite expectations that inflation is not expected to fall in the next few months, the bank lowered its key rate by another 100 basis points last…
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Erdogan accuses Greece of ‘occupying’ demilitarised islands

Erdogan accuses Greece of ‘occupying’ demilitarised islands

ISTANBUL  (Reuters) - Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan accused Greece of occupying islands in the Aegean Sea that have a demilitarised status, and said Turkey was prepared to "do what is necessary" when the time comes. Historic rivals while also being fellow members of NATO, Turkey and Greece have been at odds over issues ranging from overflights and the status of Aegean islands to maritime boundaries and hydrocarbon resources in the Mediterranean, as well as ethnically split Cyprus. Ankara has recently accused Athens of arming the demilitarised Aegean islands - something Athens rejects, but Erdogan had not previously accused Greece of…
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Why ethnic tensions are flaring again in northern Kosovo

Why ethnic tensions are flaring again in northern Kosovo

PRISTINA  (Reuters) - Kosovo began  on Thursday a two-month implementation period for a controversial move to oblige Serbs, mainly those living in the northern part of the Balkan nation, bordering Serbia, to start using license plates issued by the government in Pristina. Ethnic tensions over the decision erupted last month when ethnic Serbs in northern Kosovo, who are backed by Serbia and do not recognise Pristina's authority, set up roadblocks to protest the new rule. Kosovo and Serbia intend to join the European Union and have agreed, as part of that membership process, to resolve their outstanding issues and build…
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Bulgaria’s GERB party leads ahead of Oct. 2 election

Bulgaria’s GERB party leads ahead of Oct. 2 election

SOFIA, Sept 1 (Reuters) - Bulgaria's centre-right GERB party widened its lead over its main rival, the reformist We Continue the Change (PP) a month ahead of the country's fourth parliamentary election in less than two years, an opinion poll showed on Thursday. But none of seven parties seen securing seats in the new parliament is expected to win a majority, raising the prospect of protracted coalition talks in the European Union member state after the Oct. 2 election. GERB's party of former prime minister Boyko Borissov, whose more than a decade in power ended in 2021 amid anger against…
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Montenegro blames criminal gang for cyber attacks on government

Montenegro blames criminal gang for cyber attacks on government

PODGORICA (Reuters) - Montenegro blamed a criminal group called Cuba ransomware for cyber attacks that have hit its government digital infrastructure since last week, described by officials as unprecedented. Public Administration Minister Maras Dukaj told state television the group had created a special virus for the attack called Zerodate, with 150 work stations in 10 state institutions becoming infected. Government internet sites have been closed since the attack, which Montenegro's National Security Agency (ANB) has linked to Russia, although the extent of any data theft is unclear. "We have already got an official confirmation, it can also be found on…
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UPDATED: EU urges Kosovo to give ‘sufficient time’ for car licensing rule

UPDATED: EU urges Kosovo to give ‘sufficient time’ for car licensing rule

BRUSSELS, Sept 1 (Reuters) - The European Union said on Thursday that Pristina should give sufficient time for the implementation of a rule under which ethnic Serbs living in northern Kosovo to switch over their car license plates to local ones within two months. "It is important that sufficient time is given for the implementation of this plan, and that it is prepared and executed in close consultation with the affected citizens, and in line with good European practices," a European Commission spokesperson said. "The Freedom of Movement conclusions from 2016 included much longer timelines for re-registration, which should provide…
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Turkey hikes electricity, gas prices by 50% for industry, 20% for homes

Turkey hikes electricity, gas prices by 50% for industry, 20% for homes

ISTANBUL, Sept 1 (Reuters) - Turkish authorities hiked electricity and natural gas prices for households by around 20% and by around 50% for industry on Thursday, putting further upward pressure on inflation, which was running at nearly 80% in July. Turkey's EPDK energy regulator said it had raised houshold electricity prices by 20% and that used in the industry by 50%. While state energy importer BOTAS said it had hiked the natural gas price for domestic use by 20.4%, and by 47.6% for small- to medium-scale industrial customers, and by 50.8% for large industrial users. The price of gas used…
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EU says Serbia, Kosovo settle dispute over identity documents

EU says Serbia, Kosovo settle dispute over identity documents

BRUSSELS, Aug 27 (Reuters) - Serbia and Kosovo have settled an ethnic dispute over the movement of citizens across their border, European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said on Saturday. "We have a deal," Borrell said in a tweet. "Under the EU-facilitated Dialogue, Serbia agreed to abolish entry/exit documents for Kosovo ID holders and Kosovo agreed to not introduce them for Serbian ID holders." "Kosovo Serbs, as well as all other citizens, will be able to travel freely between Kosovo & Serbia using their ID cards. The EU just received guarantees from PM (Albin) Kurti to this end," he wrote. The…
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Number plate row fuels ethnic tensions in Kosovo as Serbia seeks more talks

Number plate row fuels ethnic tensions in Kosovo as Serbia seeks more talks

BELGRADE, Aug 26 (Reuters) - Mediated talks over the status of ethnic Serbs in Kosovo have failed to ease tensions - fuelled by a dispute over car number plates - between Belgrade and authorities in Pristina, Serbia's president said on Friday. Aleksandar Vucic said hours of talks with European Union and U.S. envoys had failed to lead to agreement over major issues - which he did not specify in detail - and that he hoped further talks would lead to "some compromise". After a bloody war in the late 1990s, predominantly ethnic Albanian Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008,…
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Photo Story: Aftermath of storm that hit North Macedonia

Photo Story: Aftermath of storm that hit North Macedonia

Boys stands in the area affected by a landslide that hit the mountain village of Gjermo, west of Tetovo, Republic of North Macedonia.  A big storm hit western part of North Macedonia on Monday afternoon and during the night. Most damages were in the city of Tetovo and the surrounding villages. Via EPA-EFE/GEORGI LICOVSKI
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Bulgaria says talks to resume Russian gas supplies are ‘inevitable’

Bulgaria says talks to resume Russian gas supplies are ‘inevitable’

Bulgaria's interim energy minister said it was "inevitable" that the Balkan country would discuss resuming gas deliveries with Russia's Gazprom GAZP.MM that were halted in April, after the government promised to secure adequate supplies for the winter. Rossen Hristov did not say when negotiations with the Russian company will start, but said they would be needed to secure cheaper gas for the country. "Given the demands of business and the trade unions, in reality, talks with Gazprom to renew supplies are inevitable," Hristov told reporters. The European Union country had been meeting more than 90% of its gas needs with Russian deliveries until…
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Serbia warns NATO over safety of Kosovo Serbs

Serbia warns NATO over safety of Kosovo Serbs

Ethnic Serbs working in Kosovo will leave their jobs unless a deal is reached to end their "persecution," Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic warned on Sunday. In a fiery TV address after meeting Kosovo Serbs, Vucic called on NATO peacekeepers to "do their job" or Belgrade would move to protect the Serb minority in the breakaway province. The comments follow the collapse of political talks between Serbian and Kosovo leaders earlier this week, mediated by the European Union in Brussels. Already tense relations between the two neighbours worsened recently after Kosovo authorities said they would require local Serbs to switch their car number plates from Serbian to Kosovan ones. Serbia has enforced a similar policy on Kosovo…
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Albania investigates military factory intruders from Russia and Ukraine

Albania investigates military factory intruders from Russia and Ukraine

TIRANA (Reuters) - Albania said it was investigating why two Russians and a Ukrainian had tried to enter a military factory and police detained four Czech nationals also close to another military plant. The defence ministry said late on Saturday that two of its soldiers had been slightly injured while detaining a 24-year-old man from Russia who had entered the grounds of the Gramsh military factory and was trying to take photos. He resisted arrest and used spray against the soldiers. Two others, a 33-year-old Russian woman and a Ukrainian man aged 25, were arrested nearby. Defence Minister Niko Peleshi…
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Albania arrests two Russians, one Ukrainian trying to enter military plant

Albania arrests two Russians, one Ukrainian trying to enter military plant

TIRANA (Reuters) - The Albanian Defense Ministry said that two of its soldiers were injured while trying to stop two Russians and one Ukrainian who tried to enter a military plant in central Albania. “Three citizens with Russian and Ukrainian passports have tried to enter the factory,” the ministry said. “The officers who were guarding the plant reacted immediately, but during their efforts to stop the three foreign nationals, two of our soldiers were injured,” the ministry said, adding that the soldiers were in stable condition. The ministry said the three foreign nationals were detained. Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama…
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Sixteen people killed in Turkey as bus crashes at accident site

Sixteen people killed in Turkey as bus crashes at accident site

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Sixteen people were killed in southeast Turkey on Saturday when a bus crashed into emergency workers and journalists who were attending an earlier accident on a highway near the city of Gaziantep, local authorities said. https://twitter.com/umitozdag/status/1560939033554984961 Regional governor Davut Gul said the dead included three firefighters, four emergency health workers and two drone operators from a Turkish news agency. https://twitter.com/doyaksec/status/1560935184664494081 "At around 10:45 this morning, a passenger bus crashed here," Gul said, speaking from the scene of the accident on the road east of Gaziantep. "While the fire brigade, medical teams and other colleagues were responding to…
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Montenegro’s parliament passes no-confidence motion on cabinet

Montenegro’s parliament passes no-confidence motion on cabinet

PODGORICA (Reuters) - Montenegro's parliament passed a no-confidence motion on the cabinet of Prime Minister Dritan Abazovic on Saturday, proposed by 36 deputies to protest the signing of a long-disputed deal regulating ties with the powerful Serbian Orthodox Church. It was the year's second no-confidence motion, following February's collapse of the cabinet of prime minister Zdravko Krivokapic, who was backed by the Serbian Orthodox Church. "I am very proud of everything we have done in 100 days," Abazovic said after the vote. "We will be remembered as the government that lasted the shortest but which made the most difficult decisions."…
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NATO peacekeepers increase presence in northern Kosovo

NATO peacekeepers increase presence in northern Kosovo

Peacekeepers in NATO's Kosovo Force (KFOR) have increased their presence in northern Kosovo to be able to react to security challenges, a NATO spokesperson told Reuters on Thursday (August 18). KFOR peacekeepers were seen on roads close to the Jarinje border crossing to neighbouring Serbia and close to North Mitrovica. The majority of the population in the area are Serbs backed by Belgrade, who do not recognise the government and institutions in Pristina. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Wednesday (August 17) the alliance was ready to increase KFOR - which numbers 3,700 peacekeepers - if there is an escalation of tensions with Serbia.…
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Israel says to restore full diplomatic relations with Turkey

Israel says to restore full diplomatic relations with Turkey

JERUSALEM, Aug 17 (Reuters) - Israel and Turkey have decided to restore full diplomatic ties and will return ambassadors to each other's country following a steady improvement in relations, Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid's office said on Wednesday. "Upgrading relations will contribute to deepening ties between the two peoples, expanding economic, trade, and cultural ties, and strengthening regional stability," the statement said. Turkey and Israel will mutually re-appoint ambassadors, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Wednesday, marking a milestone in the two countries' efforts to normalise ties. "Appointment of ambassadors was one of the steps for the normalisation of…
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German troops back to Bosnia as fear of instability grows

German troops back to Bosnia as fear of instability grows

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany has deployed troops with the European Union's peacekeeping mission in Bosnia for the first time in a decade as concerns mount instability from the Ukraine war could spread to the Western Balkans. On Tuesday, the first German troops to return to the country were greeted in a ceremony at the Sarajevo headquarters of the EUFOR force that marked the start of their mission, a German military spokesman said. Germany will deploy some 30 troops in total to Bosnia by mid-September, returning to the force that it had left at the end of 2012. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VHF-ld7K1SY Bosnia is…
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Kosovo starts power cuts as a result of energy crisis

Kosovo starts power cuts as a result of energy crisis

PRISTINA, Aug 15 (Reuters) - Kosovo’s energy distribution company, KEDS, said it would start power cuts at 8 a.m. on Monday because of a lack of domestic production and high import prices. “Consumers will have six hours on and two hours off,” KEDS spokesperson Viktor Buzhala told Reuters. The company did not say when the cuts would end.Buzhala said that the company is getting only 500 MWh/h from lignite power plants and renewables and that consumption is reaching up to 800 MWh/h.In a statement on Sunday, KEDS said that it and the country's transmission system operator, KOSTT, could not afford…
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Eleven dead in mass shooting in Montenegro

Eleven dead in mass shooting in Montenegro

CETINJE, Montenegro (Reuters) - Eleven people, including two children and a gunman, were killed in a mass shooting in Montenegro on Friday, and six others were injured, a state prosecutor told Vijesti TV after an initial investigation of the crime scene. Montenegro Police director Zoran Brdjanin said that around 3.30 p.m.(1330 GMT) a 34-year old man with a hunting rifle shot dead two siblings, one 8 years old and another 11 years old, and injured their mother who died later in the afternoon in a medical facility. "The family was staying at the house of the shooter as tenants," Brdjanin…
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Kosovo PM warns of possible new conflict with Serbia

Kosovo PM warns of possible new conflict with Serbia

PRISTINA, (Reuters) - Kosovo is prepared to stand against a possible attack by Serbia as worsening strife with minority Serbs could result in a new armed conflict, Prime Minister Albin Kurti told Reuters in an interview. Tensions between Serbia and Kosovo flared again earlier this month when Pristina said it would oblige Serbs living in the north, who are backed by Belgrade and do not recognise Kosovo institutions, to start using license plates issued in Pristina. The situation calmed after Kurti, under U.S. and European Union pressure, agreed to postpone the car number plates rule until Sept. 1 and NATO…
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Erdogan plays up diplomatic gains with eye on elections

Erdogan plays up diplomatic gains with eye on elections

 A series of diplomatic wins, capped by the deal to resume Ukraine's grain exports, provides some respite for President Tayyip Erdogan from Turkey's economic strife and offers a blueprint of his campaign strategy for elections due next year. As he prepares for what is shaping up to be the biggest electoral challenge of his nearly 20-year rule, the president is playing up his achievements on the global stage. "Turkey is going through its strongest period politically, militarily and diplomatically," he told a crowd of thousands of people in northwest Turkey at the weekend, a day after holding talks in Russia…
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Kosovo detains Russian journalist at the border

Kosovo detains Russian journalist at the border

PRISTINA (Reuters) - Kosovo’s interior minister said it has arrested a Russian journalist at the border on suspicion that she could be a spy, and security authorities were searching “for her intentions.” The country’s interior minister Xhelal Svecla named the journalist as Daria Aslamova. “Many countries have proven that she was engaged in espionage for Russian military intelligence and that she pretended to be a journalist,” Svecla said in press statement. Reuters could not verify Svecla’s accusations. The journalist was not available for comment and it was unclear if she had hired a lawyer. Svecla published on his Facebook page…
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UPDATE – Twelve Poles killed, 31 injured in Croatia bus crash on their way to Medjuorgje

UPDATE – Twelve Poles killed, 31 injured in Croatia bus crash on their way to Medjuorgje

VARAZDIN, Croatia (Reuters) - Twelve people were killed and 31 injured, 18 of them seriously, when a Polish bus filled with religious pilgrims slipped off a road and crashed near Varazdin in northwestern Croatia early on Saturday, authorities said. Police, firefighters and medical teams were deployed to the site of the accident that occurred at 5:40 a.m. near Breznicki Hum in the direction of the capital Zagreb, the police said. Rescue services at a scene of a Polish bus crash on a highway between Varazdin and Zagreb, Croatia, early morning of 06 August 2022. According to Polish Foreign Ministry, 12…
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Serbia, Kosovo leaders to discuss tensions at Brussels Aug. 18 meeting

Serbia, Kosovo leaders to discuss tensions at Brussels Aug. 18 meeting

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The leaders of Serbia and Kosovo will meet in Brussels on Aug. 18 to discuss a flare-up of tensions between the neighbouring western Balkan nations, the European Union's executive said on Friday. "The aim of the upcoming meeting ... in Brussels is to move the dialogue between Pristina and Belgrade for this is something that is very much needed at the highest level," European Commission spokesperson Peter Stano told a news briefing. Tensions came to a head last week after Kosovo said it would oblige Serbs living in the north of the country and using Serbian car licence plates to apply…
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FACTBOX -Putin and Erdogan contacts underline complex Russia-Turkey ties

FACTBOX -Putin and Erdogan contacts underline complex Russia-Turkey ties

Aug 5 (Reuters) - Vladimir Putin and Tayyip Erdogan meet on Friday for the second time in just over two weeks, after Turkey helped broker a deal to resume Ukraine's Black Sea grain exports which were blocked by Russia's invasion. President Erdogan's supporters say the agreement, which could curb soaring global food prices, highlights the importance of NATO member Turkey's diplomatic contacts with both sides. Although Turkey has criticised the Russian invasion and provided Ukraine with arms, it has broken with Western allies by not imposing sanctions on Russia. That careful balance reflects the complexity of its ties with Russia, ranging from…
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Montenegro signs long-disputed contract with Serbian Orthodox church

Montenegro signs long-disputed contract with Serbian Orthodox church

PODGORICA, Aug 3 (Reuters) - Montenegro's government signed a contract regulating its ties with the powerful Serbian Orthodox Church on Wednesday, saying it would help heal deep divisions between pro-European Union parties and backers of closer relations with Serbia and Russia. The move was immediately rejected by human rights activists and several political parties who said it gave the church too much power compared to other religious communities. Prime Minister Dritan Abazovic and the Serbian Orthodox Church Patriarch Porfirije signed the contract without the presence of media and with no prior announcement, in a government villa whose entrance was cordoned…
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UPDATED: Ukraine’s Zelenskiy says first grain ship ‘nothing’, economy in coma

UPDATED: Ukraine’s Zelenskiy says first grain ship ‘nothing’, economy in coma

KYIV/ISTANBUL, Aug 3 (Reuters) - Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelenskiy dismissed the importance of the first grain export shipment from his country since Russia invaded, saying it was carrying a fraction of the crop Kyiv must sell to help salvage its shattered economy. His downbeat comments, via video to students in Australia on Wednesday, came as an inspection of the ship was completed in Turkey before it continues to its final destination in Lebanon under a deal aimed at easing a global food crisis.  The ship, Razoni, departed from Ukraine's Odesa port on the Black Sea early on Monday carrying 26,527 tonnes of…
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Turkey’s annual inflation hits fresh 24-year high of 79.6%

Turkey’s annual inflation hits fresh 24-year high of 79.6%

ISTANBUL, Aug 3 (Reuters) - Turkish inflation rose to a fresh 24-year high of 79.6% in July, data showed on Wednesday as the lira's continued weakness and global energy and commodity costs pushed prices higher, though the price rises came out below forecasts. Inflation began to surge last autumn, when the lira slumped after the central bank gradually cut its policy rate by 500 basis-points to 14% in an easing cycle sought by President Tayyip Erdogan. Month-on-month, consumer prices rose 2.37% in July, the Turkish Statistical Institute said, below a Reuters poll forecast of 2.9%. Annually, consumer price inflation was forecast to be 80.5%. The biggest…
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Bulgarian President calls snap election

Bulgarian President calls snap election

Bulgarian President Rumen Radev set Oct. 2 as the date for the country's fourth parliamentary election in less than two years on Monday, after the collapse in June of reformist Prime Minister Kiril Petkov's coalition government. Radev also appointed former labour minister Galab Donev to lead a caretaker government to serve from Aug. 2 until a new government is formed after the election. Radev will outline the priorities of the new government on Tuesday, his office said in a statement. The European Union country faces surging inflation, natural gas supply doubts and other impacts from the war in Ukraine. The…
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Kosovo starts issuing extra documents to Serbian citizens as protesters block roads

Kosovo starts issuing extra documents to Serbian citizens as protesters block roads

ZUPCE, Kosovo (Reuters) - Kosovo's government on Monday began issuing extra documents to Serbian citizens crossing into its territory, as Serbs living in the north of the country who oppose the decision blockaded roads leading to two border crossings.  Fourteen years after Kosovo declared independence from Serbia, some 50,000 Serbs in the north still use licence plates and documents issued by Serbian authorities, refusing to recognise the Pristina government and its institutions. Following tensions on Sunday and consultations with U.S. and EU ambassadors, the government said it would postpone until Sept. 1 a decision giving local Serbs 60 days to…
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Spain’s PM backs EU candidacy for Bosnia

Spain’s PM backs EU candidacy for Bosnia

AP - Spain's prime minister on Saturday expressed support for Bosnia to become a candidate for European Union membership amid fears that uncertainty caused by the war in Ukraine could fuel instability in the ethnically torn Balkan nation that went through a devastating conflict in the 1990s'. Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez came to Sarajevo from Serbia, where he kicked off his tour of the Balkan region on Friday. Sanchez will also travel to Montenegro, North Macedonia and Albania.  Chairman of the tripartite Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina Sefik Dzaferovic (R) and Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez (L) attend a joint…
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Turkey’s tourism revenues nearly triple, but many Turks stay home

Turkey’s tourism revenues nearly triple, but many Turks stay home

ISTANBUL, July 29 (Reuters) - Turkey's tourism revenues nearly tripled in the second quarter while first-half foreign visitor numbers surged close to 2019 levels, data showed on Friday, recovering from a coronavirus-driven slump and bringing in badly-needed foreign currency. The rebound, following the lifting of tight restrictions at the height of the pandemic, has been helped by the lira's slide , which lost 44% against the dollar last year and 27% so far in 2022, making Turkey cheaper for foreign tourists. However, the economic woes fuelling the lira tumble have in turn left domestic tourism lagging behind, data and interviews suggest, with near-80%…
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Bulgaria faces fresh polls after Socialists drop bid to form government

Bulgaria faces fresh polls after Socialists drop bid to form government

SOFIA, July 27 (Reuters) - Bulgaria's Socialist party abandoned plans on Wednesday to propose a new coalition government after failing to scrape together a majority in parliament, a development that promises fresh elections in the autumn for the Balkan country. President Rumen Radev will now have to appoint a caretaker cabinet to govern the European Union and NATO member state before fresh elections can be held, most probably in October. The Socialists had made a third and final go in the bid to form a government after the coalition government of reformist Prime Minister Kiril Petkov was toppled in a…
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Albania’s ex-PM says UK has barred him from entering

Albania’s ex-PM says UK has barred him from entering

TIRANA (Reuters) - Albania’s former president and prime minister, Sali Berisha, said on Friday he had been banned by London from entering the UK for supposedly having links with criminal groups.The British embassy in Tirana said only that the United Kingdom had taken action “against several Albanian individuals with ties to criminality and corruption.” It did not name Berisha. In a similar move last year, Berisha and his family were barred by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken from entering the United States due to what Washington said were corrupt acts and abuse of power. Berisha said in a statement…
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Turkey’s Erdogan says almost all Nordic countries are “nests of terror”

Turkey’s Erdogan says almost all Nordic countries are “nests of terror”

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday that almost all Nordic countries had become "nests of terror", and repeated a threat to block Finland and Sweden's NATO membership bids if the two did not keep terrorism-related promises made to Ankara. Finland and Sweden applied for NATO membership in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, but were faced with opposition from Turkey, which accused them countries of supporting groups it deems terrorists. Last month, the three countries signed an accord to lift Ankara's veto in exchange for pledges on counter-terrorism and arms exports. Speaking to reporters on a flight from Tehran,…
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Photo Story: Police action against protesters on seventh anniversary of Suruc explosion

Photo Story: Police action against protesters on seventh anniversary of Suruc explosion

Turkish police detain protesters during the seventh anniversary of the 2015 Suruc bombing in Istanbul, Turkey, on Wednesday. At least 32 people were killed and some 100 wounded in a suicide bomb blast outside a cultural center in Suruc, Sanliurfa province, on 20 July 2015. The incident took place in Suruc, across from the northern Syria town of Kobane, which was the scene of heavy battles earlier that year between Kurdish fighters, backed by US-led airstrikes, and the Islamic State (IS) extremist group. Almost at the same time, casualties were reported in a car bombing in Kobane near a checkpoint…
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Albania, North Macedonia finally start EU membership talks

Albania, North Macedonia finally start EU membership talks

Albania and North Macedonia began membership talks with the European Union on Tuesday, overcoming a series of obstacles thrown up by EU governments despite an original promise to begin negotiations in mid-2018. The start of formal negotiations to allow the two Balkan countries to eventually join the world's largest trading bloc are a breakthrough but have revealed the EU's lack of appetite for further enlargement, particularly in northern Europe. "You have shown strategic patience, in abundance," European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told the leaders of Albania and North Macedonia in Brussels alongside the Czech prime minister, whose country holds the six-month presidency…
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N. Macedonia votes to end dispute with Bulgaria, clears way for EU talks

N. Macedonia votes to end dispute with Bulgaria, clears way for EU talks

SKOPJE (Reuters) -Lawmakers in North Macedonia on Saturday passed a French-brokered deal aimed at settling a dispute with Bulgaria and clearing the way to long-due European Union membership talks. With 68 votes, the 120-seat parliament voted in favour of the agreement. Opposition lawmakers did not participate in the vote and left the room. “Today we are opening a new perspective for our country…from today we are moving with accelerated steps to join the EU family,” Prime Minister Dimitar Kovacevski said in a press conference after his cabinet approved parliament’s conclusions.Kovacevski said the first meeting between his government and the EU…
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Bulgaria election likely after centre-right party refuses to form government

Bulgaria election likely after centre-right party refuses to form government

SOFIA, July 14 (Reuters) - Bulgaria's centre-right GERB party refused on Thursday to form a new government, bringing the Balkan country closer to snap polls in the autumn. Bulgaria is embroiled in a political crisis after the coalition government of reformist Prime Minister Kiril Petkov was toppled in a no-confidence motion last month and his PP party failed to muster enough support to form a new cabinet. "A successful formula for support in this parliament cannot be found," Desislava Atanasova, a senior member of GERB told reporters after the party declined to form a government. GERB is led by long-serving…
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UPDATED: Russia in deadly strike on Ukrainian city a day after grain talks breakthrough

UPDATED: Russia in deadly strike on Ukrainian city a day after grain talks breakthrough

KYIV, July 14 (Reuters) - Russian missiles struck the Ukrainian city of Vinnytsia far behind the frontlines on Thursday in an attack which Ukrainian officials said had left at least 12 people dead, including a small child. The strike, which Ukraine said had also wounded dozens, came a day after a breakthrough in talks between Moscow and Kyiv to unblock Ukrainian grain exports and underscored how far the two countries remain from any kind of peace settlement despite progress in those negotiations. "There are wounded and dead, among them a small child," Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy wrote on the Telegram…
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Turkey, Russia, Ukraine, U.N. set to meet on grain exports

Turkey, Russia, Ukraine, U.N. set to meet on grain exports

ISTANBUL, July 13 (Reuters) - Russian, Ukrainian and Turkish military delegations are set to meet U.N. officials in Istanbul on Wednesday for talks on a possible deal to resume safe exports of Ukrainian grain from the major Black Sea port of Odesa as a global food crisis worsens. Turkey has been working with the United Nations to broker a deal after Russia's Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine fuelled prices for grains, cooking oils, fuel and fertilizer. Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar announced the latest talks on Tuesday. "We are working hard indeed but there is still a way to go," U.N. Secretary-General…
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‘Amazing journey’: EU accepts Croatia as 20th euro zone member

‘Amazing journey’: EU accepts Croatia as 20th euro zone member

European Union finance ministers on Tuesday formally approved Croatia becoming the 20th member of the euro common currency at the start of 2023, a move hailed as the culmination of an "amazing journey" for a Balkan nation once at war. European Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis said Croatia's accession confirmed that the euro remained an "attractive, resilient and successful global currency" and a symbol of strength and unity. "This is particularly important at such a challenging time when Russia's aggression against Ukraine continues to send shock waves around the world," Dombrovskis told a ceremony to mark Croatia's accession, the euro zone's first…
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Photo Story: The victims of the Srebrenica genocide remembered

Photo Story: The victims of the Srebrenica genocide remembered

A Bosnian Muslim woman visits gravestones during a funeral ceremony for fifty newly-identified Bosnian Muslim victims, at the Potocari Memorial Center and Cemetery in Srebrenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina, 11 July 2022. The burial was part of a memorial ceremony to mark the 27th anniversary of the Srebrenica genocide, considered the worst atrocity of Bosnia's 1992-95 war. More than 8,000 Muslim men and boys were executed in the 1995 killing spree after Bosnian Serb forces overran the town. Via EPA-EFE/JASMIN BRUTUS
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