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Zaev attends Christmas Eve Mass at Catholic church in Skopje

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Macedonia’s Prime Minister Zoran Zaev attended the Christmas midnight mass in the Catholic church in Skopje.

Monsignor Dr Kiro Stojanov, Roman-Catholic Bishop of Skopje and Eparchial Bishop of the Macedonian Catholic Eparchy of the Blessed Virgin Mary, led the mass at the Sacred Heart of Jesus church.

PM Zaev’s cabinet members, including Defense Minister Radmila Sekerinska, Deputy Prime Minister for European Affairs Bujar Osmani, Deputy Prime Minister for Economy Koco Angjusev, also attended the mass.

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Macedonia

Osmani: Next week Bundestag will greenlight launch of North Macedonia’s EU entry talks

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Deputy Prime Minister for European Affairs Bujar Osmani, during a visit to Berlin, met with Michael Roth, Secretary of State for Europe at the Federal Foreign Office.

“I am here just a week ahead of the Bundestag debate on North Macedonia’s European integration to convey gratitude of our Government on your unselfish efforts to help my country get a green light for start of EU membership negotiations,” Osmani said at the meeting with Roth.

“We have made progress in all the areas highlighted by the European Council in addition to the solid track record, successful implementation of reforms adopted,” Osmani has said.

After completing the Berlin visit, Deputy PM Osmani will be traveling to Warsaw, Poland, where he is scheduled to meet with Polish Secretary of State for European Affairs, Konrad Szymatski, and with Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz. The meetings with Polish officials will focus on North Macedonia’s EU entry bid and the support for opening EU accession talks ahead of an important decision in October.

Osmani’s tour of European capitals comes just a few weeks before EU member states are due to decide at a summit in mid-October, whether to open talks with North Macedonia, as advised by the European Commission.

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Macedonia

Case Talir 2: Prosecutor Ristoska shows up in court without SJO associate

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Prosecutor Lence Ristoska appeared in court Thursday morning and for the first time she was not accompanied by a fellow prosecutor or associate from the Special Prosecutor’s Office (SJO).

She refused to answer reporters’ questions, citing busy schedule.

The hearing in Talir 2 case began today. Ristoska has been assigned to the case by Prosecutor General Ljubomir Joveski.

The former prime minister, Nikola Gruevski, and former government dignitary Kiril Bozinovski are charged with power abuse. The indictment alleges that the two had abused office by granting Beton construction company a contract to build the headquarters of the then-ruling VMRO-DPMNE party [the so-called white palace] although the company had simultaneously entered into several public procurement arrangements with public institutions and state-run enterprises. Granting the contract was found to be in violation of the Law on Political Parties, the Law on Funding of Political Parties and the Obligatory Relations Act.

The two defendants are suspected to have acquired substantial property benefits for the party [VMRO-DPMNE] with an estimated worth of 8.2 million euros.

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Macedonia

Parliament to begin budget adjustment debate today

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The lawmakers will begin debate on making midyear spending adjustments in line with projected revenue collections. The motion to adjust the 2019 budget has been initially tabled to the Parliamentary Board on  Funding and Budget.

The proposed adjustments envisage 201.5 billion denars in revenue collections, with spending projections set at 228.3 billion denars. The deficit projections remain unchanged – 17.7 billion denars or 2.5 percent of GDP.

The proposed midyear budget adjustments allocate 400 million denars to subsidize private sector wage rise; 200 million denars will go to active employment measures. Additional funds will be allocated for support of agriculture/farming. Furthermore, 193 million denars will be allocated to procurement of drugs for rare diseases plus insulin; 193 million denars for protection of Ohrid Lake collector system, VAT repayments (VAT returns or Value-added Tax refund).

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