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Bulgarian president calls consultative meeting on North Macedonia’s EU bid

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Bulgarian President Rumen Radev convened a consultative meeting with political stakeholders to discuss the bilateral relations with North Macedonia and the expected decision of the European Union to launch accession negotiations.

Topics for discussion at the meeting, scheduled for Monday, include bilateral ties between the two neighboring countries in terms of activities of the Joint Expert Committee on history- and education-related affairs, as well as the pending decision of the EU regarding the opening of accession negotiations with North Macedonia, Bulgarian media reported.

Among those invited to attend the meeting are Prme Minister Boyko Borisov, Parliament Speaker Tsveta Karajancheva, Deputy Prime Minister for Judicial Reforms, Foreign Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva, parliamentary groups’ coordinators, chairmen of parliamentary committees on foreign policy and European affairs, and representative of the Joint Expert Committee on Historical and  Educational Affairs.

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Greece’s first crematorium opens in Viotia

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Fifteen years after cremations were legalized in Greece, the country’s first such facility has opened in Ritsona, in Viotia, central Greece, and has already carried out 15 cremations.

Licensed in the summer of 2018 and inaugurated on September 30, the private venture is 70 percent owned by Crem Services SA. The nongovernmental Greek Cremation Society (GCS) holds a 30 percent stake.

Speaking to the press at the facility on Thursday, GCS president Antonis Alakiotis hailed its operation as a “historic event.”

“Changing funerary customs is one of the hardest and slowest shifts that any society can make,” he said, adding, “Our country… is unfortunately the last in the European Union to acquire a crematorium.”

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Kurti: Albanians’ national unification cannot happen in EU

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Albin Kurti, most likely the next prime minister of Kosovo, said on Wednesday that merging of Albanians could not happen in the European Union, but an idea on confederation could exist.

Self-determination (Vetevendosje) party came first in Sunday’s general elections, and the incoming prime minister,  who was once a vocal advocate for merging Kosovo and Albania, now advocates merger of  Kosovo and Albania into a federation similar to Germany, with decentralized institutions.

“I can’t say that the national unification happens in the EU,” said Kurti, He said he plans to take charge of the EU-led talks previously run by President Thaci, his main political enemy.

Kurti earlier hinted revision of all agreements which Pristina and Belgrade signed during the EU-mediated dialogue on normalization of relations, which has been on hold since last November, following Pristina’s decision to introduce 100% import tariffs on goods from Serbia and BiH.

Kosovo opposition Vetevendosje party is set to come first in the parliamentary election with 26 percent of votes, slightly ahead of the Democratic League of Kosovo party which won 25 pct of votes, preliminary results showed.

Political prisoner turned parliamentary troublemaker Albin Kurti is within reach of becoming Kosovo’s next prime minister after an electoral triumph that could reshape the political scene in Europe’s youngest country. According to preliminary results, Vetevendosje came first with nearly 26%, just ahead of another opposition party, the centre-right LDK. The pair say they are open to talks on a coalition to secure a ruling majority.

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Borrell: If China, India and Russia do not recognize Kosovo, it will not achieve statehood

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The newly appointed EU Foreign Minister Joseph Borrell said that the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue is taking too long, adding that the current situation cannot be continued and that an agreement must be reached, on which he will strongly engage. Borrell said that he will first visit Pristina, because, “he already knows Serbia well.”

“One thing is clear: Kosovo and Serbia must reach an agreement. That is important. I will do everything I can to meet this priority”, Borrell said.

Borrell told the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament that the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina must be resumed.

Asked if the credibility and integrity of his policies in the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue will be called into question by Spain’s position that does not recognize Kosovo’s independence, Borrell says that although member states differ in recognition, they are united in their commitment to solving the problem.

“If China, India and Russia do not recognize Kosovo, Kosovo will not achieve its statehood. That’s why we have to work to keep the talks going”, Borrell said.

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