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Kosovo has the lowest GDP per capita in the region

Kosovo continues to have the lowest Gross Domestic Product per capita in the region with 3372 euros, while FYROM comes third with 4757 euros.

Eurostat has recently published the latest data on GDP per capital, placing Montenegro on top of the list with 6646 euros. Serbia ranks second with 5126 euros, followed by FYROM with 4757 euros, Bosnia and Herzegovina with 4473 euros, while Albania and Kosovo rank last with 3983 euros and 3372 euros respectively.

Although FYROM ranks among the countries with the lowest GDP per capita in Europe, this indicator has seen a growth in the past few years. In 2008, FYROM’s GDP per capita was 2780 euros.

Meanwhile, average GDP per capita in the EU is 29.396 euros. It will take around 6 decades for Western Balkan countries to achieve this level. /ibna/

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FYROM: Reactions following the voting of the Prespa agreement by parliament

FYROM’s Prime Minister, Zoran Zaev was the first one to congratulate MPs for the voting of the constitutional amendments which give way to the approval of the new country’s name, “Republic of North Macedonia”, based on the Prespa agreement.

“Our journey toward the EU and NATO has just started. We still have a lot of work to do in order to make this journey shorter”, Zaev said.

On the other hand, the leader of the largest party, VMRO-DPMNE, Hristijan Mickoski said that this is the saddest day for the country, while announcing that all the MPs who voted in favour of these amendments were expelled from the party.

Meanwhile, a number of international figures have also praised the parliament’s decision. NATO’s Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg posted on Twitter that the government and political leaders should finalize this process which guarantees the country’s future in the NATO.

“I welcome the vote by parliament in Skopje on the proposed constitutional changes. It's up to the government and political leaders to complete national procedures on the name agreement and seize this historic opportunity to bring the country into NATO”, Stoltenberg posted on Twitter. /ibna/

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Parliament in FYROM votes in favour of the Prespa agreement

Parliament in FYROM has voted late on Friday the decision to make the necessary constitutional amendments for the implementation of the Prespa agreement. These amendments will enable the country’s name change to “Republic of North Macedonia”, which is part of agreement signed between Skopje and Athens in Prespa in June of this year.

MPs have initially voted electronically, but afterwards, VMRO-DPMNE’s whip insisted that MPs vote individually. In both voting stages, the governing coalition managed to secure 8 extra votes from VMRO-DPMNE in opposition, taking the total number of votes in favour of the agreement to 80. PM Zoran Zaev and Foreign minister Nikola Dimitrov were also present in this parliamentary sitting. /ibna/

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The Assembly said YES to the constitutional changes to name Macedonia’s North

A majority vote of 80 MPs has approved the decision to open the constitution for constitutional amendments to the name under the Prespa Agreement.

These changes will enable the country's name change in the Republic of North Macedonia in accordance with the Prespa Agreement reached between Skopje and Athens.

Initially, it was voted through the electronic system, and with the insistence of the VMRO-DPMNE parliamentary group leader, the deputies voted separately.

In the two voting phases, 80 required votes of the ruling coalition, the Albanian opposition parties, and the votes of 8 deputies of the opposition VMRO-DPMNE coalition were secured. Prime Minister Zoran Zaev and Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov also attended the session./IBNA

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Tsipras, Draghi and the reason behind their meeting

The meeting of Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras with the head of the European Central Bank (ECB), Mario Draghi in Brussels could be nothing but accidental during the first summit, in the European capital.

Surely, there have been positive signals about the good course of the Greek economy, however, there is an issue that remains thorny for Athens and is related to the preparation of the next issue of a bond, which is scheduled for the beginning of the new year.

And why would Mario Draghi could have a say in this….

At the moment, all four Greek systemic banks (National, Eurobank, Piraeus and Alpha Bank) have in their portfolios approximately 7.5 billion euros in Greek government securities. But the ECB does not give the "green light" for their increase.

The above came into force in February 2015 during the time Yannis Varoufakis was at the helm of the Finance ministry, when Frankfurt expressed its concern that the Finance Ministry could filled banks with treasury bills and bonds in order to solve the liquidity problem of the state. This seems of no usefulness today.

As this restriction is lifted, players in the domestic securities market will become more and bond yields will fall to manageable levels, as the 10-year yield is currently close to 4.5%.

Therefore, the Greek side has well founded reasons to wish to see Draghi's stance changed…. / IBNA

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The frozen conflict between Serbia and Kosovo poses a “stability risk”

Washington appeals on both Belgrade and Pristina to use a "historic opportunity" and reach an agreement which would be a win-win solution, said Matthew Palmer, deputy assistant of the American secretary of state. Palmer spoke during the Belgrade Security Forum today. He has also met President Aleksandar Vucic.

"If somebody wins, and the other side loses, then nobody wins", Palmer said at the panel "Building on momentum in the Balkans".

The American official said that his country does not "push" towards any specific result of the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina. "We do encourage both sides to find way forward as well as durable and sustainable solution", Palmer said.

The solution must be acceptable for the both sides, he went on. Washington is ready to "hear and assist", Palmer said, adding, however, that he cannot talk about details, especially on a possible swap of the territories.

Palmer explained that no plan of the territory swap has been presented so far. Although the United States do understand concerns that the territory swap could provoke a crisis in the other parts of the region, an unresolved dispute or "frozen conflict" could also "pose a risk for the regional stability", Palmer said.

He underlined that Serbia and Kosovo have a "European future" and that they both need assistance in that regard.

Palmer also referred to the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. If Skopje wants to join both European Union and NATO, then the Prespa Agreement has no alternative, he emphasised. Palmer appealed on political leaders in Skopje to overcome parties' divisions for the sake of a "European future".

Referring to Bosnia, Palmer said that the "biggest problem" of that country are its "corrupt politicians who use a nationalistic rhetoric to create divisions". He added that the United States are "committed" to Bosnia's territorial integrity.

The "United States want to help everybody. Stronger Western Balkans means a stronger Europe and a stronger Trans-Atlantic partnership", the American diplomat concluded…. / IBNA

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