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Macedonia eyes more Turkey cooperation September 26, 2012

Posted by Yilan in Macedonia, Turkey.
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Today the world faces economic, political and security problems and the only possibility to increase global competition is with international economic cooperation, said Gjorge Ivanov, president of the Republic of Macedonia, in his speech during the IstanbulBusiness Forum.

Ivanov stressed that he is happy to see traditional and good relations of Turkey and Macedonia improving in this regard.

“Still I do not think the economic cooperation between the two countries is at the required level. Both the Republic of Macedonia and Turkey should show extra efforts to utilize the current capacity,” he said.

According to Ivanov, the private sector and entrepreneurial spirit in particular, is a pioneering power in today’s globalized world.

Ivanov said his country attended the International Business Forum in Istanbul because of the good relations between Turkey and Macedonia and TOBB’s positioning in the country’s economic development.

Macedonia and Turkey have potential for stronger cooperation September 26, 2012

Posted by Yilan in Macedonia, Turkey.
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Macedonia’s President Gjorge Ivanov addressed Thursday the official opening of the “TOBB International Business Forum”, which brings together over 1,000 businessmen and representatives of international institutions from 85 countries.

The forum focuses on the global economic crisis with an emphasis on the role of the private sector and the need to strengthen entrepreneurship and find solutions in removing the obstacles in international trade.

Greece ready to sell islands to help ease debt September 26, 2012

Posted by Yilan in Yunanistan.
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A tourist emerges from a sweet water pond in front of the "Fonisa" waterfall on the Greek island of Kythera.

A tourist emerges from a sweet water pond in front of the “Fonisa” waterfall on the Greek island of Kythera.


Greece’s Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund has identified 40 uninhabited islands and islets that could be sold to reduce debt as pressure grows on the country to revive an asset-sales plan key to receiving international aid.

“We identified locations that have good terrain, are close to the mainland and have a well-developed infrastructure and, at the same time, pose no threat to national security,” Andreas Taprantzis, the fund’s executive director for real estate, said in a Sept 6. interview in Athens. “Current legislation allows us to sell them outright .”

The fund is charged with raising 50-billion euros (US$64-billion) from state assets by 2020 to meet conditions tied to pledges of 240 billion euros in foreign aid. As international inspectors in Athens scrutinize the country’s fitness to receive the latest aid payment, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras has said commercial exploitation of some islands could generate the revenue lenders need to see to continue funding the country.

The shortlist includes islands ranging in size from 500,000 square meters (5.4-million square feet) to 3-million square meters, and which can be developed into high-end integrated tourist resorts, Taprantzis said.

The fund announced an action plan to speed up the country’s privatization program Tuesday. In its statement, the fund named the companies it’s chosen to proceed to the next phase of tenders in three real estate projects. The benchmark ASE Index was up 5.8% at 773.7 points at 4:52 p.m., the highest since March 26 and the day’s biggest gain among major European indexes.

The fund reviewed 562 of the estimated 6,000 islands and islets under Greek sovereignty. While some are already privately owned, such as Skorpios by the Onassis shipping heiress Athina Onassis, the state owns islands such as Fleves, which is near the coastal resort area of Vouliagmeni, and a cluster of three islands near Corfu. Taprantzis declined to identify any of the islands.

Legislation needs to be passed to allow development of public property by third parties and reduce the number of building, environmental and zoning permits needed before the plan can proceed, Taprantzis said.

Selling public land outright is a politically sensitive issue in Greece. In 1996, Greece and Turkey almost went to war over who owned the uninhabited Aegean islet of Imia, known as Kardak in Turkey. A proposal by Greece’s lenders last year to increase revenue from asset sales including property drew opposition from then-premier George Papandreou.

The country has only raised about 1.8-billion euros from its asset sales program, sparking criticism among European officials that the government isn’t moving quickly enough to reduce debt. Months of negotiations over the country’s debt restructuring earlier this year, the largest ever, and two general elections that threatened Greece’s membership of the euro area also held back progress on sales.

Takis Athanasopoulos, the fund’s new chairman, said the goal of generating 19-billion euros from state asset sales by 2015 can be met as long as Greece’s business environment is “appropriate.”

The fund will be able to gauge demand for Greek real estate as it revives a tender to develop a golf course on the island of Rhodes, Taprantzis said.

The fund chose six companies, including London & Regional Group Holdings Ltd. and NCH Capital Inc., out of seven contenders to enter a second round of bidding for developing a strip of land on the island. A preferred bidder for the site measuring 1.85 million square meters, including an 18-hole golf course, is expected to be chosen by the end of February, the fund said yesterday.

“We are enthusiastic about the potential of this particular tender and what it reveals about market sentiment for Greek assets at this time,” Taprantzis said.

The fund also selected Qatari Diar Real Estate Investment Co., London & Regional, Elbit Cochin Island Ltd. and Lamda Development SA for the second phase of bidding to buy a majority stake in Hellenikon SA. Hellenikon will develop the site of the former Athens International Airport, which at 6.2 million square meters is more than three times the size of Monaco, according to the fund.

Chiefs of Defence of Lithuania and Macedonia Discuss Military Cooperation Issues September 26, 2012

Posted by Yilan in Lithuania, Macedonia.
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On September 18, Chief of Defence of Lithuania Lieutenant General Arvydas Pocius went on official visit to the Republic of Macedonia (.

Lithuanian Chief of Defence in the capital of  Macedonia  met Defence Minister Fatmir Besimi, Chief of Defence Major General Gorancho Koteski and other military representatives of Macedonia. Macedonia’s aspiration to join NATO Alliance, countries’ participation in NATO operation in Afghanistan, NATO operation in Western Balkans has been discussed during the meeting.

Lithuanian and Macedonia’s delegations also discussed the perspectives of bilateral cooperation, mainly focusing on the field of military training.

Chief of Defence of Lithuania invited military of Macedonia to join NATO Energy Security Competence Center in Vilnius.

During the visit Lieutenant General Arvydas Pocius also visited Macedonia’s Special Operations Forces Unit Headquarters.

September 19-20, Lithuanian Chief of Defence will go on official visit to Croatia. In Zagreb he will meet Croatia’s Chief of General Staff (Chief of Defence) Lieutenant General Drago Lovric, Deputy Defence Minister of Croatia Visnja Tafra. Also Lithuanian Chief of Defence plans to visit Croatian Armed Forces’ units, where he will meet the Lithuanian Special Operations Forces soldiers participating in the exercise “Jackal Stone 2012”.

The Chief of Defence of Lithuania is returning to Lithuania on September 21.

Macedonia Soccer Movie Kicks Off Controversy September 26, 2012

Posted by Yilan in Bulgaria, Human rights, Human rights abuses, Israel, Macedonia.
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A screengrab from Macedonian director Darko Mitrevski’s World War II soccer drama “The Third Half”

Soccer has always been a sport that lends itself to drama and it has been the source of many great stories that resonate beyond the field of play.In addition to the frenetic thrills and spills of the game itself, the universal popularity and cross-border appeal of association football means that many stirring moments in the sport’s history also end up being celebrated as part of a nation’s folklore.For example, the infamous “death match” between prisoners of war, who were former professional soccer players with Kyiv teams, and soldiers from the Nazi Wehrmacht has become the stuff of legend in both Ukraine and beyond.

The gripping story of how some local footballers paid the ultimate price for having the temerity to thrash a Nazi soccer team has become a source of national pride in Ukraine.

It’s such an enthralling story that it has easily lent itself to movie adaptations — inspiring a number of films such as “Escape to Victory” starring Sylvester Stallone as well as the controversial “The Match,” which sparked a major controversy ahead of the Euro 2012 finals, which Ukraine co-hosted. .

Now, a Macedonian filmmaker has given the cinematic treatment to one of his country’s most venerated soccer stories, which has also sparked a row.

Darko Mitrevski’s “The Third Half,” which premiered at a festival in Bitolathis week, tells the tale of the short-lived Skopje football club FC Macedonia.

Playing in the Bulgarian league at a time when Macedonia didn’t officially exist, and coached by Jewish trainer Illes Spitz, this team defied all the odds to reach the Bulgarian national league final of 1942.

Bulgarian Outrage

Mitrevski’s movie is essentially a love story based on the life experience of Macedonian Holocaust survivor Neta Cohen.

“The Third Half” depicts how a young Jewish girl from an affluent family defies her parents by dating a poor Macedonian football player. But their love overcomes this parental hostility and even saves the girl’s life because she manages to escape being deported to Treblinka by eloping with her boyfriend.

With high production values and a classic Romeo-and-Juliet plotline set against the tumultuous backdrop of World War II, the film has every chance of being well received internationally.

It’s not surprising therefore, that “The Third Half” has already been nominated as the Macedonian entry for this year’s Best Foreign Language Oscar.

WATCH: International trailer for “The Third Half”

In neighboring Bulgaria, however, the film has sparked outrage, with many saying that it paints a skewed picture of the deportation of Macedonian Jews to Nazi death camps.

Late last year, three Bulgarian members of the European Parliament called on the European commissioner for enlargement, Stefan Fuele, to censure Skopje for the movie, which they said was an “attempt to manipulate Balkan history” and “spread hate.”

Bulgaria has often been praised for refusing to deport its Jews to its ally Germany in World War II. Nonetheless, it did deport Macedonian Jews after it occupied the region following the collapse of Yugoslavia in 1941.

According to Balkaninsight.com, only 2 percent of Jews from Macedonia survived the Holocaust and some historians have intimated that Bulgaria handed them over to appease the Germans for protecting their own Jewish population from the Nazis.

Mitrevski has denounced the Bulgarian allegations, which he described as “foolish reactions.” He has also slammed the use of what he calls “Goebbels-like production machinery” to deny Bulgaria’s role in the Holocaust.

Old Sense Of Injustice

Ironically, despite the heated debate surrounding the movie, the real controversy for most hard-core football fans has nothing to do with historical accuracy.

For Macedonian soccer supporters, the film has reawakened an old sense of injustice because they believe FC Macedonia was robbed of the Bulgarian championship in 1942.

To this day, there are many people who still feel that the Skopje club was denied victory in the league final against Levski Sofia because of biased decision-making by referees who had conspired to ensure that a “non-Bulgarian” team would not win the national championship.

In 2010, FC Macedonia’s last surviving member, goalkeeper Vasil Dilev, indicated that there was no doubt his team were by far the better footballing side, thanks to the tutelage of the legendary Spitz.

“There are no more coaches like that,” he said. “He turned Macedonia into a club that made the whole of Bulgaria shiver.”

WATCH: Interview with FC Macedonia goalkeeper Vasil Dilev