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Lavrov postponed his visit to BiH

Minister of Foreign Affairs of BiH Igor Crnadak confirmed that Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sergey Lavrov, postponed his official visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina, with the new date for the visit having been set for September 21.

Lavrov planned to visit Sarajevo and Banja Luka, but the date had to be changed due to “sudden changes in minister Lavrov's agenda”. Minister Crnadak said that he had a yelephone conversation with Lavrov. As it was said, during the talk Crnadak noted the importance of good relations with the Russian Federation, as well as the visit of Minister Lavrov to Banja Luka, where he was supposed to attend the ceremony of laying the foundation stone for the construction of the Russian-Serbian cultural center.

The organizers decided not to wait the guest from Russia and the ceremony will take a place on Monday, September 17, as it had been planned. The Center will contain a big church, which will be constructed in Russian style. The whole complex of building will be erected as a sign of the gratitude to Russian Tzar, Nikolai Second Romanov, and his help to Serbs during World War I. On January 18, 1916, Nikolai sent a letter to the King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, George V, and president of France, Raymond Nicolas Landry Poincaré, saying that the Serb Army needs help to cross the sea from the Albanian coast to Corfu Island, Greece.

"If the Serbian army is not urgently transferred from the Albanian coast to the Greek island of Corfu, Russia will leave Entente and sign a separate peace with Germany", stressed the Russian Tzar in the message, which was sent on the same day when he received the urgent help request from Serbian PM at the time, Nikola Pašić.

Lavrov was supposed to represent the Russian Federation at the ceremony but his decision to postpone it triggered various comments in BiH public. Several media published the opinion that Russian FM does not want to come before it is ensured that he will see the “black list of Russian citizens who are banned from entering BiH”, as it was the recent case with poet, Zakhar Prilepin.

Several analysts argue that it is possible that this important visit will be postponed for some date after the BiH General Elections, because Serb parties in BiH are arguing who called him first to come to BiH – RepublikaSrpska president MiloradDodik, leader of the Alliance of the independent Social Democrats (SNSD), or BiH minister Crnadak, who is member of the Party of Democratic Progress, which is SNSD's opposition at entity level./IBNA

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New EBRD loan in energy area

People and businesses in the Republika Srpska will benefit from a more reliable power supply and improved energy efficiency thanks to a loan provided by the EBRD with the support of Taiwan ICDF.

The EBRD issued the press release saying that the loan of €15 million will finance the reconstruction of the medium and low-voltage power network in Elektro Bijelijina’s distribution area, as well as the installation of smart meters. Losses in the distribution of power and high consumption due to outdated and inaccurate meters, EBRD stress, are major contributors to the high-energy intensity in BiH, which causes additional costs to consumers.

“Investing in a more modern, efficient and flexible power distribution network will promote improved efficiency through reduced power losses and greater awareness of energy consumption patterns. It will also facilitate the penetration of higher levels of distributed renewable energy”, EBRD says.

Head of the EBRD Office in BiH, Jan Brown, said that the loan would be used to finance the reconstruction of the distribution network and the supply of meters, saying it will provide a reduction in distributive losses to a technical minimum of 6.5 percent, which is standard in Western Europe. The financing is provided as a loan to ZEDP Elektro – Bijeljina A. D. Bijeljina, the entity-owned power distribution company in RS. Up to €7.5 million of the loan will be provided by the Green Energy Special Fund, established and administered by the EBRD with the contribution of TaiwanI CDF. Previously, the EBRD also provided a loan to ZP Elektrokrajina A.D. Banja Luka for a similar purpose.

RS Minister of energy, industry and mining, Petar Đokić, said after the contract signing ceremony in Bijeljina that in this way RS rises the total value of energy system, strengthening its capacities, improving the function and doing all of this in favour of quality supply of all consumers with electricity.

"Implementation of this project will contribute to the improvement of key parameters, such as the reduction of distribution losses, through the reconstruction of low voltage and medium voltage installations and replacement of the meter to the consumer", Dokić said.

EBRD added that supporting energy saving and improved energy efficiency, as well as promoting sustainable sources of energy is a key activity of the Bank.

“Last year alone, the Bank committed 43 per cent of its €9.7 billion in new investments under its Green Economy Transition (GET) approach. The Bank is a major investor in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Since the beginning of its operations in the country the EBRD has invested €2.1 billion in around 150 projects”, EBRD concludes./IBNA

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Tsakalotos raised the issue of pensions cuts to Scholz

The issue of the abolition of the pension cuts measure raised to his German counterpart, Greek Finance Minister, Euclid Tsakalotos, calling for the dialogue to be concluded as soon as possible, not only for the 2019 fiscal space, but until 2022.

Mr Tsakalotos defended the government's position, arguing that the surpluses would exceed 3.5% in 2019, but in the next three years as well, to convince Scholz and Moscovici, with whom he met today on the sidelines of the ministerial network meeting Of Economic Affairs of the European Socialist Party (PES Ecofin Ministerial Network).

During the meeting, he expressed the view of the Greek government that based on the latest data, there is a budgetary space beyond the target of 3.5%, both for the year 2019 as well as for the following years, the exact size of which is discussed and will continue to be discussed with the institutions. He also expressed the view that it would be a good idea to start a debate on how best to make the best use of this space, not only for 2019 but also for the years up to 2022.

However, the issue of pensions is unlikely to close in the Eurogroup on November 5, but on the one in December 3, 2018, on technical grounds, as the financial data are not sufficient to draw clear conclusions. The government's next goal is to postpone the measure of pension cuts and re-examine it in the first quarter of 2019./IBNA

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Albania with the highest number of convicts in the region

Albania has the highest number of convicts per 100 thousand residents among Western Balkan countries.

This is suggested by the latest figures published by World Prison Brief.

According to the report, in the list of Western Balkans countries, Albania is followed by Montenegro with 174 convicts per 100 thousand residents. Serbia comes third with 174 convicts per 100 thousand residents, while FYROM ranks fourth with 134 convicts per 100 thousand convicts.

Meanwhile, Kosovo and Bosnia and Herzegovina have the lowest number of convicts per 100 thousand residents with 106 and 73 respectively.

The US has the highest number of convicts in the world with 655 convicts per 100 thousand residents. Latin America countries also have a high number of convicts with Brazil leading the list with 323 convicts per 100 thousand residents. /ibna/

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Albanian president receives US State Department official Elisabeth Millard

President of Albania, Ilir Meta received today in a meeting the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the State Department's Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, Elisabeth Millard.

During this meeting, the pair discussed the importance of the reforms for the rule of law and European integration.

President Meta assured Mrs. Millard that Albania is determined in delivering its obligations set out in the Strategic Partnership document between Albania and the US.

The meeting also discussed the developments in Western Balkan region. President Meta stressed the importance of the finalization of dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia through an agreement which guarantees European perspective.

The pair also underlined the important of a successful referendum in neighbouring FYROM considering it as crucial for the European future of the entire region. /ibna/

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Germany reiterates its support for the integration of Albania

Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, Ditmir Bushati received Germany’s Foreign minister, Heiko Maas who arrived in an official visit to Tirana.

Minister Maas’ visit coincides with the 31st anniversary of the signature of the Economic Cooperation for Development Protocol between the two countries.

Minister Bushati praised the excellent relations that exist between Germany and Albania and thanked the German minister for the great support offered by the German government in the difficult process of the implementation of reforms for more democracy, rule of law and good governance.

On his part, the German minister praised the efforts made by the Albanian government for the reforms about the country’s European integration, stressing that Germany will continue to offer its support for Albania in this path.

At the end of the meeting, the two ministers delivered a joint news conference. /ibna/

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